In a pilot program designed for accident avoidance, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in conjunction with the University of Michigan, is set to begin the largest test bed of wireless automobiles in the world.
It is believed by the program’s developers that motor vehicle accidents, which have been classified as the single largest public health crisis in the United States, necessitated the development of a crash avoidance system. In response to this belief, the test of their new system will be conducted in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with some 3,000 vehicles; its goal is to reduce the number of motor vehicle accidents that result in injury and / or motor vehicle deaths.
At the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, employees will be installing wireless communication devices in the following types of vehicles:
- Passenger automobiles
- Commercial vehicles
- Transit buses
In addition, wireless communication devices will be installed at key locations such as traffic signals, intersections, road signals, curves in the roadway, and other sites throughout the entire test area. Then, using this wireless technology, all of the connected vehicles will communicate with each other while communicating with these fixed positions. The thinking is that this transmitted information, which includes vehicle speed and the direction of each vehicle, will be calculated so that the drivers will be alerted to any potential crash situations. The technology is also intended to provide for both visual and audible warnings, inside of the vehicle, that will be set to alert the driver to potential dangers on the road ahead that may require the driver to brake suddenly, change lanes, or otherwise perform maneuvers to avoid a collision.
Once the testing is completed, the data generated will be archived as part of the project so that it can be used in the future by regulatory and policy makers when they present proposals before USDOT. In addition, this information would also be made available to the transportation industry for use in developing additional approaches to vehicle safety, mobility, and environmental sustainability. The testing phase will last one year, but the overall program will operate for 30 months.
Since the program will provide information developed using wireless technology and its ability for intercommunication between cars, its number one advantage will be that developers can use the data for the development of futuristic car designs. In addition, the transportation departments will benefit, along with drivers, as new roadway construction would be conducive to this new technology, thus making roads safer and easier for drivers to navigate.
In what has become an example of improved intersection design, Springfield, Missouri, is one of the first cities in the United States to employ what is known as diverging diamond intersections. The two-phase operation at these signal-controlled intersections improves safety since there are no left-hand turns in front of opposing traffic. In addition, the efficiency of the intersection improves since there are only two signal changes at the intersection instead of the six changes that occur at the standard interchange. Currently, there are three diverging diamond interchanges being used in Springfield, Missouri and another currently under construction.
Given these improvements, I believe that there is no doubt that we are on a precipice of change where we will see a continued effort to make driving our highways and byways safer. Will this crash avoidance system be without its own set of obstacles that need to be addressed? Of course not. However, one can’t help but to admit that it sounds like a major step for mankind, in fact, almost like something from the old Jetsons cartoon. Be sure and let me know what you think in the comments below.
Source: Scientific American