DaimlerChrysler has developed a wireless car-to-car communications system that can relay warnings about road conditions, improving traffic flow and enhancing safety.
A demonstration using a Mercedes-Benz E-Class and a Dodge Durango was presented at the company’s Innovation Symposium in Washington this month.
The Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC) system uses a 5.9 GHz wireless local area network (WLAN) connection.
Cars pass information to roadside communications stations and from vehicle to vehicle up to a distance of 1,000m, and can also transmit digital music or map updates.
DaimlerChrysler is working with the US Federal Department of Transport and the states of Florida, Michigan and California to prepare further tests for later this year.
‘The technology will be fully mature in the next two years,’ said Chris Wilson, vice-president of ITS strategy and programs for Daimler- Chrysler Research and Technology, North America.
‘It needs to reach a critical mass to be effective so we are in discussion with other car companies and the government.’
He hopes a decision on whether to introduce the system in the US will be made in 2008 or 2009, allowing it to be deployed nationally by 2010. No decision has yet been taken about introducing the technology to Europe.
If a vehicle comes across an accident, congestion, or adverse weather such as fog or ice, a warning can be broadcast to other vehicles, allowing drivers to slow down or take an alternative route.
Each vehicle can send, receive or route information. This creates an ad-hoc network containing connections spontaneously created and organised without the help of external infrastructure — a process known as multi-hopping.
Meanwhile, BMW is testing a faster and more accurate sensor for accelerator pedals, to make cars more responsive. The sensor digitally registers the angle of the accelerator pedal and sends a signal to the computer control system. Engineers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits have developed the sensor, which can monitor the pedal’s exact position in three dimensions.
It is at the prototype stage and is being testing at BMW’s laboratory in Munich. The sensor is embedded in a chip positioned behind the pedal, where it instantly detects a change in position, eliminating inaccuracies. Existing pedals use a complicated mechanism in which the movement of the disc is converted into an electrical signal that controls both engine and brake. The new 3D sensor instantly converts the pedal’s movement into an electrical signal, making it quicker and more accurate.