There’s been a ton of dialogue about the potential of autonomous vehicles and connected cars, and how these technologies could improve automotive travel. Well, before we get to full-blown automated transportation, there will be baby steps of sorts. One of the first, according to Ford, could be eliminating traffic lights and stop signs.
The automaker’s Intersection Priority Management system, which is currently being tested in the U.K., uses a hybrid wireless connection that allows vehicles to communicate, sharing data on location, direction, and speed.
Software analyzes all of this data in calculating the trajectory of vehicles and suggests a speed that will allow each car, truck or semi to cross an upcoming intersection without stopping. Ford feels these coordinated movements could improve travel speeds and safety without the need for lights and signs.
The vehicle-to-vehicle platform could also be used to warn drivers of impending collisions when approaching an intersection or tell drivers about the location and distance of approaching emergency vehicles.
Vehicle communication platforms are nothing new. The term telematics has been around for two decades in describing the potential for vehicles to communicate service needs with maintenance and repair shops. Additionally, Honda has developed their experimental Smart Intersection system that connects cars with strategically-mounted cameras on nearby buildings and posts. The camera’s vantage point essentially allows drivers to see around corners to avoid potential collisions.
Ford is currently wrapping up a two-year study of their system and developing plans for integrating the technology into future vehicles.