Each year, the automotive industry continues to evolve and become more and more high tech. Many tech features boost safety, while others ensure a greater degree of comfort, convenience, and connectivity. But despite tremendous technological advances throughout history, roadway fatalities are still far too common across the country and around the world.
According to recent news reports, the world's first ever connected car is planned to arrive at dealerships within the next two years. So what exactly is a "connected car" and what does it mean for the future of driving?
University of Arizona Research
University of Arizona Professor, Larry Head, and his PhD students have been testing "connected car" technologies and how to make them work in cars for some time now. These technologies have highly sophisticated computer systems that send, receive, and share information with other connected cars at record speeds.
Benefits of Connected Cars
The whole purpose of this technology is to enable cars to share their location and other data to each other to reduce the number of roadway accidents.
"This is going to be the future of driving," said Head. "Cars will no longer run into each other since they're communicating about where they are. In the next two decades, I think all cars will have this technology."
Connection Beyond the Cars
Not only is Head's research team trying to make cars more connected to each other, but also to their surroundings. It is their goal to connect cars to traffic lights, public transit systems, and even emergency vehicles in the area. At this time, they're experimenting with manipulating the signals' timing to allow buses to get through intersections without having to stop, for example.
Connected Cars and Pedestrians
The researchers are also catering their work on connected cars to pedestrians who will share the roads with all this tech-savvy traffic. They've developed a pedestrian app that runs on a smart phone that enables walkers and joggers to push a button to let drivers in and near a particular intersection know they're in the area.
Spreading the Word
The University of Arizona researchers aren't alone in believing that this new technology can make roads and highways safer for all types of drivers. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has already begun reserving bandwidth to accommodate these new "connected cars" and make sure they have enough access to be effective on the road. Major communications companies, such as AT&T, are jumping on board as well, committing service in advance for millions of connected cars within the next few years. Perhaps this will be the missing piece of the technological puzzle that makes driving a little less dangerous for everyone.