‘Car-to-X’ technology could prevent accidents, traffic snarls

In the not-too-distant future, the cars we drive could become a lot smarter — and safer — thanks to something called Car-to-X communication.

Researchers working on smart-car technology say they recently achieved a breakthrough involving the wireless exchange of information not only from vehicle to vehicle, but from vehicle to traffic infrastructure and back. The development could pave the way for cars that “talk” with their surroundings and gather information that can help prevent accidents, traffic jams and other motorist headaches.

Led by Daimler, a research consortium has been working on a project called sim (for “Safe Intelligent Mobility”) for three years now. In announcing its breakthrough this week, Daimler also unveiled plans for the largest field trial yet to test Car-to-X communication. Starting next spring, some 120 vehicles will hit real-life roads in the Rhine-Main region of Germany to test the technology.

“We are convinced that Car-to-X communication represents an important step on the way to accident-free driving,” said Christian Weiss, sim project coordinator and head of the Cooperating Systems team in the Research and Advance Development department at Daimler.

Using Car-to-X systems could significantly expand a vehicle’s field of vision — the “telematic horizon” — to help prevent accidental encounters with unseen obstacles on the road ahead. The technology could also help drivers by, for example, suggesting routes to the nearest available car park.

Car-to-X communication could also make it possible to control traffic signal systems according to prevailing requirements, which could both optimize traffic flow and make driving more efficient.

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