There’s lots of frenzied media speculation these days about potential automotive tie-ups, sparked by a possible- - alliance.
Yet, major auto makers already share a host of partnerships without making full-blown commitments. Many of these have to do with hydrogen fuel cells and other advanced powertrains, but there also are a number of safety-technology collaborations, as well.
One noteworthy endeavor is an effort to develop common vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications systems that promise to limit blind-spot collisions and maintain safe distances from vehicles ahead and behind using new sensing technology.
The Federal Communications Commission is so impressed with the possibility it recently dedicated a 5.9 gigahertz frequency for vehicle systems to broadcast their location to one another.
But automotive engineers say in order for cars and trucks to communicate, they first have to speak the same language.
That’s where the Crash Avoidance Metric Partners (CAMP) group comes in. The consortium, established by GM andand including DaimlerChrysler, and , is seeking to establish such standardization.
That’s because although V2V hardware takes a low-key approach to the vehicle’s appearance, the science is worthy of Star Wars.
GM’s in-house system, which is leading the way, basically consists of a roof-mounted transponder, antenna and communications chips.
Together, they enable a vehicle to broadcast its location and monitor the position of hundreds of other cars with the same capability 10 times every minute. The broadcast range is about 984 ft. (300 m) – roughly three times that of traditional radar.
What does this mean for a driver? A vehicle traveling at 35 mph (56 km/h) headed straight for a stalled car, for example, would see a green vehicle icon on the dash-mounted monitor, used to indicate speed and the distance between vehicles, turn to yellow.
About 30 yards (27 m) out, the icon would turn red. At the same time, the stalled vehicle’s turn signals and brake lights would flash in a rapid warning sequence. A second later, the brakes would seize control of the moving car, pulling it to a sudden stop some 15 ft. (4.6 m) short of the stationary vehicle.
The system also alerts the driver when a passing vehicle is approaching, flashing an amber caution light in the side mirror. If the driver engages the turn signal and another vehicle is in the blind spot, the system sends a vibration through the driver’s seat.
The V2V technology also can trigger a vehicle’s taillights to flash, cautioning an approaching driver against tailgating, potentially preventing chain-reaction collisions on congested roads during rush hour.
Such advanced collision-avoidance measures generally start out costing top dollar and show up in expensive luxury cars well before they filter down to the masses.
But GM claims it can provide V2V capability with a single, low-priced sensor. Although it may take five to 10 years before the technology can be deployed widely, the auto maker says it may look into selling its system as an aftermarket device for $200 or less.
That’s a concept everyone can live with.