Usually when the topic turns to “smart cars” the hoots come in from all directions about how small – and thus unsafe – they are. But we’re talking about a new type of “smart” car being proposed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), not BMW’s tiny Smart brand of automobiles.
The system has two parts. The first, called vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication, has is a system that allows automobiles to communicate with each other. A separate portion allows cars to communicate with roadside infrastructure, such as traffic lights, and work and school zones. Taken together the technology is now referred to as V2X.
One such example: Let’s say you’re driving, and coming up on an intersection. You’ve got a green light, but because of road design, you cannot see a vehicle on a cross street that’s about to run a red light.
With no V2X, the typical result of such a scenario would be getting t-boned by the car running the red light, a collision type that often injurers or kills.
But with V2X, your car frantically flashes a red warning light on your dashboard, warning of your of the impending danger and giving you time to respond appropriately by hitting your brakes. Thus, minimizing or completely eliminating the crash from occurring.
Consumer Reports staffers have experienced V2X up close and personal. Overall, both came away impressed with the effectiveness and potential safety benefits of the systems.
It’ll be several years before this technology is ready for market, and we think it may be a bit of a pipe dream at getting the smart roadway into place, given that we can’t even manage to patch potholes as our automotive infrastructure crumbles around us.
“These systems are being aggressively developed because they could be the next big safety breakthrough,” said Rik Paul, automotive editor, Consumer Reports. “But adequate oversight of how the information is used is essential to ensure the privacy of drivers and to prevent abuse.”