Meet your new road nanny

Show cars, coming technology, industry predictions, things to come but not here yet

Meet your new road nanny

Postby meteorite » Fri May 04, 2012 9:47 pm

Technology allowing vehicles to communicate with each other on the road could prevent up to 80% of crashes, National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland said Thursday.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication "really has a tremendous amount of promise to save lives," Strickland said in a keynote address at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress at Cobo Center.

Strickland said NHTSA is working with automakers and government agencies to accelerate the introduction of connected-vehicle technology such as crash-warning systems and lane-departure alerts. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute is conducting research that could help guide the agency's next steps, according to the nation's top safety regulator.

"The next North Star is keeping the crash from ever happening in the first place," Strickland said. "We are hard at work from a research standpoint at figuring out the systems that have promise" to become mainstream features in affordable cars.

Strickland, who has pushed for laws and regulations that reduce driver distraction, said one of NHTSA's most prominent goals is ensuring that in-vehicle technology connect to digital devices with "the right interface," which allows drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.

Strickland also said:

• NHTSA is finalizing a rule to improve rear visibility in passenger vehicles.

• Thirty-eight states have adopted bans on texting while driving in part because Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has used the so-called bully pulpit to convince state governments to outlaw the dangerous activity.

• Engineers at NHTSA are "beyond proof of concept" on a system that would prevent vehicles from being operated by a drunken driver and could "be offered as an option on vehicles of the future."

• The agency views the prospect of self-driving cars as "a policy case" that would be addressed "when we actually see that happening."

Strickland's comments came a day after Anthony Levandowski, product manager for Google's driverless car project, suggested in Detroit that autonomous vehicle technology could become a commercial reality within 10 years.

Strickland said "automated safety systems have so much promise at so many levels."
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