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NHTSA Going To Disney World! (To Test Vehicle-To-Vehicle Communications)

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On: Mon, Oct 24, 2011 at 10:57AM | By: Chris Weiss


NHTSA Going To Disney World! (To Test Vehicle-To-Vehicle Communications)

Technology is going to be a growing story in the automotive industry. While some of that technology is of questionable value to safety and driving, some is designed specifically to make cars and commutes safer. You can actually find examples like blind spot detection and electronic stability control in current vehicles.

The future promises even more safety-driven technology, and one such aspect that companies like BMW are working on is vehicle-to-vehicle communications. Essentially, cars would be able to communicate with each other, process important traffic data, and deliver it to the driver to make the commute safer and more efficient.

The National Highway Transportation Authority NHTSA) recently held a vehicle-to-vehicle test event at the Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Florida.

I get a kick out of thinking about a room full of car and safety geeks debating where to hold an event only to come up with "Let's go to Disney World!!" Sounds like a lot of NHTSA folks were hoping to write off their family vacation. But the event was a serious stepping stone in the agency's analysis of vehicle-to-vehicle systems. Members of the public got to test such systems in a controlled environment while researchers observed.

The NHTSA will consider the trial when making an official decision on recommendations and rulings on vehicle-to-vehicle technology in 2013.

Systems that were part of the clinic included in-car collision warnings, "do not pass" alerts, warnings that a vehicle ahead has stopped suddenly, and others. NHTSA research shows that these types of systems have the potential to affect about 80 percent of crashes involving non-impaired drivers.

Before Orlando, the "Driver Acceptance Clinic" series stopped in Michigan and Minnesota. It will travel to Virginia, California, and Texas between now and January 2012.

The clinics are the first half of a two-part research effort being conducted by the NHTSA, Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA), and other Department of Transportation agencies. The second half will involve deploying a test fleet of about 3,000 vehicle-to-vehicle equipped cars in Michigan beginning in the summer of 2012 and running for a year.

RITA Acting Administrator Greg Winfree framed the importance of the technology: "The past several decades of auto safety have been dedicated to surviving crashes, but the future will be about avoiding crashes. That is what connected vehicles are all about. Moreover, the entire Safety Pilot is about connecting the best resources from public and private sectors to achieve the most effective results possible."

PRESS RELEASE

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood previews high-tech vehicles in demonstration at Walt Disney World® SPEEDWAY

ORLANDO – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today received a firsthand look at "connected vehicle" technologies that have the potential to improve safety and help drivers avert crashes as part of a research clinic hosted by the Department of Transportation at Walt Disney World® SPEEDWAY.

"Thanks to the efforts of automakers and the safety community traffic fatalities have reached historic lows. Despite these great strides though, more than 32,000 people are still killed on our nation's roads every year. That's why we must remain vigilant in our effort to improve safety," said Secretary LaHood. "This research should bring us a step closer to what could be the next major safety breakthrough."

Analyses by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show connected vehicle technology could potentially impact approximately 80 percent of vehicle crash types involving non-impaired drivers. Specifically, NHTSA research shows these technologies could help prevent a majority of kinds of crashes that typically occur in the real world such as crashes at intersections or while switching lanes.

The four-day "Driver Acceptance Clinic" at Walt Disney World® SPEEDWAY in Orlando is part of a six-month program that includes similar research clinics across the nation. The driver clinics are the first phase of a two-part research program jointly developed by the Department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) in coordination with other U.S. Department of Transportation agencies.

The driver clinics are designed to evaluate cars equipped with "vehicle-to-vehicle" communications systems in a controlled environment where researchers can observe the drivers' responses. The technologies being tested include in-car collision warnings, "do not pass" alerts, warnings that a vehicle ahead has stopped suddenly, and other similar safety messages.

"With its potential to save lives and prevent injuries, connected vehicle technology could be a real game-changer for vehicle safety," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. "These clinics are vital to understanding how drivers will respond to the technology and how connected vehicles communicate in real world scenarios."

RITA Acting Administrator Greg Winfree said, "The past several decades of auto safety have been dedicated to surviving crashes, but the future will be about avoiding crashes. That is what connected vehicles are all about. Moreover, the entire Safety Pilot is about connecting the best resources from public and private sectors to achieve the most effective results possible."

Driver clinics have already been held in Michigan and Minnesota, and future clinics are planned for Virginia, California, and Texas and are expected to conclude by January 2012. Following the clinic program, the Department of Transportation will launch the second part of the Safety Pilot with a model deployment that will use approximately 3,000 vehicles to further test connected vehicle technology in a year-long effort from summer 2012 through summer 2013. The model deployment will operate on roads in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and test a limited number of vehicle-to-infrastructure applications in addition to continuing the research on vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.

Eight major automotive manufacturers are providing support for the Department's research through partnering agreements: Ford Motor Company, General Motors LLC., Honda R&D Americas, Inc., Hyundai-Kia America Technical Center, Inc., Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America, Inc., Nissan Technical Center North America, Inc., Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. and Volkswagen Group of America.

The information collected from both phases of the Safety Pilot will be used by NHTSA to determine by 2013 whether to proceed with additional vehicle-to-vehicle communication activities, including possible future rulemakings.

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