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Intelligent vehicles: It's good for cars to talk too

By John Dean - 27 May 2011 11:41:0 GMT
Intelligent vehicles: It's good for cars to talk too

With car manufacturers continually improving fuel efficiency, attention is turning not just to the technology but also to the way we drive.

As part of that growing awareness, US manufacturer Ford has been experimenting with vehicles which save fuel by helping motorists to avoid congestion and the waste of fuel which can be caused by idling engines. The technology also addresses ways of reducing the number of accidents on the road.

Earlier this week, Ford invited auto industry, transportation and technology figures to the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles to discuss the way intelligent vehicles can make cars more efficient, A similar event will happen on June 1 in San Francisco.

The experimental cars are able to 'talk' to each other, detecting each other's presence using Wi-Fi signals, allowing them to identify hazards and alert the driver.

Ford says that reducing crashes could reduce traffic delays, as could information fed into the vehicles to provide up-to-date traffic information, allowing drivers to steer clear of congestion.

The company points to research by the Texas Transportation Institute, which suggested that congestion continues to worsen in American cities, wasting 3.9 billion gallons of fuel a year.

Leading factors in traffic delays are accidents, breakdowns and road debris, according to the Institute.

Paul Mascarenas, vice president, Ford Research and Innovation and chief technical officer, said: ''We are not far from the day when vehicles will operate like mobile devices with four wheels, constantly exchanging information and communicating with our environment to do things like shorten commute times, improve fuel economy and generally help us more easily navigate life on the road. A smart network of intelligent vehicles has the potential to benefit drivers in many ways.''

Ford says that its conventional vehicles are already delivering better fuel economy than before and it also has plans to release five electric models in North America in 2012, with Europe to follow in 2013.

Top Image Credit: © Aleksandr Lazarev