While safety experts campaign to get people to stop talking on cell phones while driving, Ford Motor Company is working on cars that will talk while being driven. Who will they talk to? Each other, according to Ford. The automaker says that wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communications could warn drivers about potential danger, making them potentially helpful in the 81 percent of light vehicle crashes that don’t involve impaired driving, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).
The technology being developed by Ford will allow vehicles to talk wirelessly with one another using advanced Wi-Fi signals, or dedicated short-range communications, on a secured channel allocated by the Federal Communications Commission. Unlike radar-based safety features, which identify hazards within a direct line of sight, the Wi-Fi-based radio system allows full-range, 360-degree detection of potentially dangerous situations, such as when a driver’s vision is obstructed.
A driver could be alerted about an impending collision, the sudden stop of a vehicle ahead of them or a change in a traffic pattern. The system could also warn of the risk of collision when changing lanes, approaching a stationary or parked vehicle, or if another driver loses control.
Ford says that after a decade of research, and a new 20-member task force and increased funding will accelerate the development process. The company’s goal is to be a global industry leader in what it calls, “connected vehicle technology.”
Demonstration vehicles will hit the road this spring, starting at major technology hubs across the country.