Ford Motor Company researchers have developed a so-called ‘smart intersection’ that uses GPS technology and wireless communications to reduce traffic accidents and ease congestion.
The intersection, established near Ford’s Research & Innovation Centre in Dearborn, Michigan, communicates with specially equipped test vehicles to warn drivers of potentially dangerous traffic situations.
The intersection is fitted with technology that can monitor potential hazards, and then transmit that information to vehicles.
Several pieces of data are sent to the vehicle, including a digital map of the intersection, six additional maps of surrounding stop sign intersections and crosswalks, lane-specific GPS location, as well as traffic light status and timing information.
Once the information is received, the vehicle’s collision avoidance system can determine whether the car will safely cross the intersection, or if it needs to stop before reaching it. If the system determines the need to stop and senses that the driver is not decelerating quickly enough, it issues visual and audio warnings to the driver.
Joe Stinnett, lead technical engineer, from Ford’s Active Safety Research and Advanced Engineering arm, said: ‘This technology has the potential to augment vehicle navigation systems to enhance safety by helping people who are distracted, drowsy or cannot see the traffic light due to a visual obstruction.’
Despite its advantages, Ford’s researchers are quick to point out that while the smart intersection is an excellent tool for developing collision avoidance systems, broad deployment of dedicated short-range communications capability will require significant public funding.