Connected-vehicle pilot project gets under way in the US

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The largest connected-vehicle, street-level pilot project has begun in the US.

Conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the project is designed to save lives and reduce injuries among US motorists.

Safety Pilot Model Deployment, a $22m (£14m) partnership between UMTRI and the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), is part of a joint research initiative led by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to see how well wireless communication technology works in the real world.

UMTRI will install wireless communication devices on nearly 3,000 vehicles that will let cars, trucks and buses communicate with each other, as well as to traffic lights and other road signals located at intersections, curves and highway sites throughout a test pilot area in north-east Ann Arbor.

The connected-vehicle technology involves both vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications that transmit and receive vehicle data such as position, speed and direction.

Drivers are alerted to a potential crash situation — such as a nearby vehicle unexpectedly braking, a sudden lane change or merging traffic — by a visual or audible warning inside their vehicles.

UMTRI director Peter Sweatman said: ‘Connected-vehicle technology has the ability to address as much as 80 per cent of crashes of unimpaired drivers… We also believe connected-vehicle technology will influence new economy start-ups and innovation into the existing industrial base.’

The data generated and archived as part of the project will be used to inform future regulatory and policy decisions by the USDOT.

In addition, it will be made available to the transportation industry for use in developing new approaches to vehicle safety, mobility and environmental sustainability.

The testing phase will last one year, but the overall programme will operate for 30 months.