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Surprising Science

Connected Cars, Talk Amongst Yourselves

A study that starts today uses ordinary citizens and vehicles equipped with Internet access to help researchers gather data that could drastically improve the driving experience.

Article written by guest writer Kecia Lynn

What’s the Latest Development?

Starting today, the US Department of Transportation and the University of Michigan are working with citizens of Ann Arbor, Michigan to gather massive amounts of driving data using cars, trucks, and buses that are equipped with Internet access. This study of connected car technology will last one year and involves, among others, “soccer moms and baseball dads” and university employees who will drive their normal routes using vehicles that send information to transponders installed on infrastructure equipment. In addition, a fleet of buses and trucks will both send and receive data from other vehicles and equipment. Over 2800 vehicles will be used in this study.

What’s the Big Idea?

In order to collect what stands to become a significant amount of information, scientists are installing devices in the cars that work much like an airplane’s black box in terms of gathering drivers’ and cars’ second-by-second activities. Similar devices connected to traffic lights and the like gather and transmit data quickly and efficiently. The hope is that all of these cars and objects “talking” to each other on the road will eventually lead to safer vehicles, better drivers, and improved traffic as a whole.

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