(Photo : University of Michigan)
The University Of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) announced Tuesday the launch of a year-long joint research initiative with the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to look into "smart car" technology designed to decrease the number of motor vehicle crashes each year in the United States.
Like Us on Facebook
The $22 million project, called the Safety Pilot Model Deployment is being led by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The goal is to see the impact of wireless communication technologies on driver and vehicle safety.
"Safety Pilot Model Deployment is an example of our leadership in the area of safety and sustainability research," said UMTRI Director Peter Sweatman in a statement. "Connected vehicle technology has the ability to address as much as eighty percent of crashes...We also believe connected vehicle technology will influence new economy startups and innovation into the existing industrial base."
The Safety Pilot Model Deployment is "a peek into the future of transportation" focused on "connected vehicles." These are cars that rely on short-range wireless communications (similar to WiFi) that allow cars to "communicate" with each other. This, in combination with and "on-board safety application" will allow cars to "talk" to drivers in order to warn of potential collisions with other cars ahead of time, thus allowing drivers to avoid crashing.
The model deployment will look into how well connected vehicle safety technology will work in a real-life, real-time, real-people scenario. The deployment will test performance, usability and collect data to analyze safety benefits for possible larger-scale deployments.
There are three devices being tested in this program, including a Vehicle Awareness Device (VAD), Aftermarket Safety Device (ASD) and ASD + Data Acquisition System (DAS).
The VAD is a wireless device that securely transmits your vehicle speed and location to other cars in the area. The ASD is similar to the VAD, but also receives speed and location data from other vehicles. It uses this information to give drivers an audio warning if any threat of a crash should occur. Lastly, in addition to an ASD, a DAS collects video and data on driver performance so researchers can study how drivers interact with the ASD and respond to crash warnings.
"This is a game-changer for transportation. There are many safety and convenience applications to this, as well as applications related to mobility and sustainability," said program manager Jim Sayer, an associate research scientist at UMTRI in a statement. "This is a tremendous opportunity, and we are very excited to be able to support the USDOT's demonstration of cutting-edge transportation technologies in our community."
The data that is collected from this project will be compiled and archived for use in future USDOT regulatory and policy decisions. This data will also likely be used by the transportation industry to develop additional ideas for vehicle safety, mobility and environmental sustainability.
"This is a big moment for automotive safety," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. "This cutting-edge technology offers real promise for improving both the safety and efficiency of our roads. This is a winning combination for drivers across America."
UMTRI is currently seeking out participants for its safety pilot project and is recruiting individuals in the Ann Arbor area of Michigan through its Web site. The testing phase will last for one year and the overall program is slated to operate for thirty months. Participants in the program will receive $200 as compensation upon completion of the study.