Imagine a world where your car checks your blind spots for you, monitors traffic conditions on the road ahead and even avoids potential collisions. Ford believes that these capabilities aren’t just a dream for a distant future. In fact, the technologies necessary to make this vision a reality are scheduled to undergo a real-world assessment starting this fall.
The yearlong program, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, will test wireless communications between vehicles and roadside equipment, with the aim of developing future safety measures and technologies. Nearly 3,000 vehicles will participate in the test on more than 70 lane-miles of instrumented roadway. Consumer impressions of the technology will also be gathered. The test is being run in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the University of Michigan.
So how exactly will these cars talk to one another? Communications will take place over advanced Wi-Fi signals, or dedicated short-range communications, on a secured channel allocated by the Federal Communications Commission.
The system works by having every equipped vehicle broadcast a short message to nearby vehicles, with information about vehicle position, speed and predicted path of travel. Vehicles equipped to receive this message may then be able to determine if another vehicle is on a path for a collision and then react quicker than a driver possibly could.
For this technology to truly be revolutionary, every car on the road, no matter what manufacturer, must be able to speak the same language. To that end, Ford is working closely with governments, standards organizations and other global automakers to develop global benchmarks for this technology.
The increasing use of wireless communication is part of the Ford Blueprint for Mobility, which was outlined by Executive Chairman Bill Ford during his keynote address at the 2012 Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year. This plan details the company’s early thinking on how to tackle the issues of mobility in an increasingly crowded and urbanized planet between now and 2025.