General Motors is working on a new way for people to communicate with others from their cars, but it has nothing to do with Twitter or Facebook--it’s a new type of vehicle-to-vehicle communication that shares information about traffic or road hazards.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard of vehicle-to-vehicle communication, or even that GM’s interested in playing with the technology -- but it is the first time that V2V, as it’s nicknamed, can be implemented either from in-car hardware or, GM says, an app installed on a driver’s smartphone. Both methods reportedly utilize Dedicated Short Range Communications – a form of wireless networking -- to communicate with surrounding cars about problems on the road.
The devices can communicate travel speeds, which allows them to detect and broadcast when a driver is stuck in traffic, and allow other drivers to adjust their speeds and routes to avoid the same snag. Other information transmitted can vary from car to car, and what automakers are willing to convey with other vehicles. For instance, if one vehicle deploys traction control or ESP, other vehicles could be notified of potentially slippery conditions ahead. V2V may also allow drivers to adjust speeds to avoid being stuck at red lights.
GM is showcasing the technology in Orlando this week, but from there, the technology has a long way to go until it’s completely viable. Because the technology relies on a mesh network of devices that are sending and receiving information, the devices get more accurate (thereby making drivers safer) when there are more of them on the road. GM predicts that the system will be ready and on the road by the end of the decade. Still, tying the system to a smartphone app theoretically allows that network to grow quicker than if V2V is only rolled out within new vehicles.
It’s not a moment too soon: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that this technology will do especially well with preventing certain types of crashes, especially those that occur within intersections. If V2V takes off, NHTSA says the technology could help prevent about 81 percent of accidents – provided, of course, the omnipresence of an information screen in our dashboards doesn’t spell an increase in distracted driving.