If you haven’t heard of vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology yet – a term often shortened to the slick acronym “V2V” – you will be soon, as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) just launched a gigantic road test of such systems in conjunction with the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) up in Ann Arbor, MI.
V2V technology isn’t exactly new stuff here – it’s been discussed in vehicle engineering circles for a long time and field tested by both foreign and U.S. automakers from time to time. Indeed, you can view Honda’s take on the potential for V2V systems to improve vehicular safety below.
However, DOT and UMTRI are taking V2V to a whole new level by deploying nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and buses equipped with “connected” Wi-Fi technology so they can “talk” to one another as well as “infrastructure” such as traffic lights in real time to help avoid crashes and improve traffic flow.
It’s also important to note that this year-long safety pilot project – headed up by the DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) branch – uses test cars, trucks and buses supplied mainly on a volunteer with both V2V and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication devices.
UMTRI will then gather extensive data about system operability and its effectiveness at reducing crashes in its role within this road test.
Things the program will examine include the effectiveness of electronic data messages translated into warnings regarding specific hazardous traffic scenarios, such as: impending collisions at a blind intersection; a vehicle changing lanes in another vehicle’s blind spot; and a rear collision with a vehicle stopped ahead, among others.
“Vehicle-to-vehicle communication has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety – but we need to understand how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real world,” noted NHTSA Administrator David Strickland in a statement. “NHTSA will use the valuable data from the ‘model deployment’ as it decides if and when these connected vehicle safety technologies should be incorporated into the fleet.”
This large scale “road test” model deployment is the second phase of DOT’s connected vehicle safety pilot by the way – what the agency calls a “major research initiative” managed by NHTSA and the Research and Innovative Technologies Administration (RITA) intelligent transportation systems joint program office.
DOT also noted that information collected from both phases of the safety pilot – including UMTRI’s road test, along with related research projects – will be used by NHTSA to determine sometime next year whether to proceed with additional activities involving connected vehicle technology, including possible rulemaking.
Could that mean V2V and V2I technology might be mandated for commercial vehicles as well as cars? That last note about “possible rulemaking” sure sounds like it. That’ll depend in part on what the results of the UMTRI road test of those two systems. Thus more watching and waiting is ahead of us methinks.