Autonomous Cars Talk To Each Other At MCity

A fascinating program of research carried out at the University of Michigan's MCity shows how cars of the future can be safer - they talk to each other.

A car barrels through a red light, but the Lincoln MKZ leading the cross traffic doesn't T-bone it. In fact, the Lincoln never enters the intersection. It gradually slows down and yields to the law-breaking vehicle with time to spare.

A car is stopped dead in the road around a blind curve, but the Kia Soul that comes up behind it doesn't rear-end it. The Kia doesn't even brake hard. It gently comes to a stop before its passengers even register the obstacle.

Both scenarios are as noteworthy for what didn't happen as they are for what did.

The Lincoln and the Kia are connected and automated research vehicles—self-driving cars that can make decisions about how to behave based on communication with other vehicles and the infrastructure around them. Recently at the University of Michigan's Mcity Test Facility, they were part of a series of demonstrations that illustrated the key role connected technology can play in harnessing the safety benefits that self-driving vehicles promise.

In a typical driverless vehicle prototype, cameras, lidar and radar devices serve as "eyes." But these sensors can't detect obstacles beyond their line of sight—like the stopped car behind the blind curve, for example. Connected technology changes that. Through vehicle-to-vehicle communication, or V2V, cars can wirelessly and securely share data about their location, direction and speed at the rate of 10 messages per second, using Dedicated Short Range Communications, or DSRC.

Author Isaac Asimov introduced science fiction fans to this idea in 1953 in his short story Sally

My cars talk to one another. I have no doubt about it anymore. It's as though they've gained confidence; as though they're not bothering to keep it secret anymore. Their engines rattle and knock continuously.

And they don't talk among themselves only. They talk to the cars and buses that come into the Farm on business. How long have they been doing that?
(Read more about autonomous car intercommunication)

Via University of Michigan.

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