The recently announced Connected Vehicle Proving Center was officially dedicated at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, MI on Tuesday. A number of officials, including the director of the center Stephen Underwood and CAR director Dr. David Cole, spoke about the mission of the center. The CPVC is is a joint venture of the Connected Vehicle Trade Association and the Center for Automotive Research. The state of Michigan kicked in $3.1 million to help establish the facility while another $3.6 million came from a variety of other sources.

The center will provide resources for suppliers, car-makers and researchers to test the functionality and interoperability of a variety of systems including vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to -infrastructure communications. Several companies, including Delphi, Continental, Ford and GM, were on hand with demonstrations of some technology they are working on.

[Source: Connected Vehicle Proving Center]
When work was being done on intelligent vehicle highway systems in the 1990s the focus was on building systems that would allow cars to be operated autonomously by following buried lines in the roadway. The cost of making such infrastructure changes proved to be unworkable. Most of the work today revolves around various wireless communications schemes to pass information between vehicles and also from vehicles to roadside access points.

Much of this is built on the increasingly ubiquitous telematics systems going into modern cars such as GM's OnStar and integrating it with some of the on-board safety systems in the cars. The vast majority of the cars that are on the road today don't have such systems and many of those will still be on the road for the next 10-20 years. That means that if we start equipping all vehicles with such systems now it will be many years before most vehicles have it. However, the approach being taken now, also relies less on massive infrastructure investments and some of the functionality can be retrofitted.

Chatting with Christopher Borroni-Bird from General Motors he mentioned a recent study he read that estimated that taking just ten percent of cars out of a traffic jam could increase the average speed of the traffic flow by fifty percent. If even a small number of vehicles could be warned of congestion and diverted either by direct communications or electronic signs it could have a huge impact. It's a development that could have a major benefit both for safety by preemptive action to avoid accidents and also for fuel efficiency and emissions reductions by reducing the number of vehicles sitting in stop and go traffic jams. The center will be actively involved in testing and validating a wide variety of new technologies to make sure they are both safe and reliable so that companies can bring them to market.

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