Unprecedented study of connected cars in Michigan

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Ann Arbor

The streets of Ann Arbor, Mich. will be the testing grounds for a massive study of connected vehicles. Image: Michigan Municiapl League (MML)/CC BY-ND

In the largest experiment of its kind ever, the U.S. government is backing a study on connected cars in Ann Arbor, Michigan. About 3,000 vehicles of all types will be equipped with technology to communicate with one another in the massive endeavor.

Connected cars improve flow, reduce crashes

Connected cars use wireless technology to communicate with one anther in real time. By knowing the location and the speed of other vehicles on the road, “talking” cars will be able to move faster and more smoothly in traffic, helping to minimize traffic congestion, as well as effortlessly avoiding  collisions. The technology will even change lights to green for motorists, as long as there is no opposing traffic.

David Strickland, director of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said:

“Vehicle-to-vehicle communication has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety — but we need to understand how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real world. NHTSA will use the valuable data from the ‘model deployment’ as it decides if and when these connected-vehicle safety technologies should be incorporated into the fleet.”

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An unprecedented study

the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) won a contract of $14.9 million to conduct the experiment for the Transportation Department’s Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Program. Previous experiments have been conducted, but they used fewer vehicles, deployed in staged events, and not in real-world conditions.

For the next year, city buses, trucks and private vehicles owned by some 300 citizens will be equipped with the devices that transmit for about 1,000 feet in all directions. These vehicles will interact and “communicate” with one another and with roadside transponders. They will be used to collect a multitude of data that will be evaluated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Project Leader James Sayer said:

“From the integrated and aftermarket cars, we’re collecting location, speed, direction, driver and surrounding terrain videos, throttle, brake, and steering wheel angle data.”

A new high-tech industry

Just last week we ran a piece in Car Deal Expert about how a cottage industry has popped up in Pacific Northwest cities such as Bellevue for auto connection technology. Now that technology is being put to the test in a big way, and some say that connected cars will be the norm in as few asten years.


Los Angeles Times