By on October 22, 2011

Though the idea that there is a “war on cars” appeals to certain segments of society, there’s little evidence for any such effort. On the other hand, it’s pretty clear that there’s a “war on drivers” on, and it’s being led by the automotive industry. On the one hand, cars are being ever-more laden with distracting gizmos and toys, while simultaneously, companies are testing systems that minimize the need for drivers at all. Though Google’s autonomous cars get a lot of media play in this country, another system is moving Europe towards a similar endgame. Known as “Car-To-X,” the system allows cars to swap information like speed and direction, not just with each other but with traffic lights and traffic data collectors. The idea is to avoid traffic and crashes, by warning drivers of oncoming traffic in a left-hand turn scenario, for example. Because who wants to use their eyes to make sure they’re safe when technology can do it for you?

According to Autobild, the first public German test of the system will begin next spring, with 120 vehicles taking part. GM is currently testing a similar system. If all goes according to plan, systems like this and Google’s autonomous technology will fulfill GM’s prediction that autonomous vehicles will be a reality by 2020, and the war on driving will be won. Or lost, depending on your perspective.

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13 Comments on “The War On Drivers: “Car-To-X” Communication System Testing Begins...”


  • avatar
    JK43123

    I think it is just more of the general dumbing down of our society.

    John

  • avatar
    potatobreath

    I imagine a reassuring computerized female voice saying, “Caution. Pull right. Caution. Pull right. Crash imminent.” before the airbags deploy. ;)

    It would be kinda handy for when it’s hard to judge yellow lights. It might also stop people from slowly running yellows too. Hate it when people do that, especially when I’m on my motorcycle.

    Or occasions when there’s a big vehicle immediately in front, and then everyone ahead of him jams on the brakes for some unknown reason.

    Or get people to pull over for emergency vehicles instead of taking the opportunity to pass.

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Sorry, but right now I see nothing but win in this technology. I’m sick and tired of (one letter and one number, your choice!!!)

    A) Inattentive jackholes on their cellphones
    B) Dipsticks driving by GPS
    C) Dingbats completely baked off their hoo-haas
    D) Subaru/Toyota/Hyundai driving aging hippie liberal douches

    1) not signalling for turns.
    2) pulling out in front of me.
    3) driving 15 mph under the speed limit.
    4) constantly varying their speed +/- 10 mph while weaving between the white and double yellow.

    This technology should stop all of that. I’ll just buy older cars, thank you.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      But what if your older car isn’t equipped with the technology? Other, newer cars will be blind to you, turning into your path. When you collide, who’s at fault? You, for operating a defective vehicle?

      These proposals always seem to assume universal adoption of the new technology, but life in the free market seldom works that way.

      • 0 avatar
        mazder3

        Well, by the time this technology is adopted, I’m sure that all cars will have radar and computer controlled brakes standard. They’ll see me and stop.

      • 0 avatar
        WheelMcCoy

        Adoption can be gradual if they relegate certain roads for cars with this tech and other roads for unequipped cars. Ditto about Mazder3 about radar and computer controlled brakes (already on Volvos) to help with the transition.

        I’m on the fence though as to whether this is a good idea or not, but it seems inevitable.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    This looks promising but won’t have an impact on road safety for years unless it has a capability to detect non-equipped vehicles.

    Of course it is a reflection of the large number of poorly skilled drivers. Every safety device ever made, from belt guards, fan shrouds, grip safeties and the safety razor have been non-essential additions put in place for the sake of the careless and unskilled. Of course, none of us TTAC readers have the need for such systems , but I wish the really bad drivers out there had an electric nanny to keep them away from me.

    I would rejoice if the gov’t would mandate collision avoidance systems, given that I get stuck in traffic at least once a day while somebody’s rear-ender gets sorted out. In 2011 it’s absurd that new cars don’t have the universal capability to prevent themselves from driving into the object immediately ahead. Call it a win for insurance rates, the environment, fuel efficiency, and health costs. A loss for body shops and carmakers.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    How will systems like this ever deal with pedestrians?

  • avatar
    holydonut

    America is seriously lagging behind the rest of the world. There have been many advancements in DSRC communications within cars.

    Many vehicles in Japan now come with smart-technology so the car can get real-time updates from the roadway, other vehicles, and even pedestrians and cyclists.

    As is often the case, Americans are too busy bickering over cell phone use to actually form an initiative to evoke positive change for traffic safety and traffic optimization.

    English (2009 article showing Toyota’s desire to implement this tech)
    http://www2.toyota.co.jp/en/news/09/09/0903.html

    Japanese (Honda CR-Z outfitted with tech not available in the USA)
    The vehicle can get up-to-the-second updates about crashes and slow traffic ahead in order to warn/divert the driver.
    http://www.honda.co.jp/CR-Z/webcatalog/navigation/internavi/index.html

    English (2009 article discussing how this can help pedestrians)
    The goal is that if a vehicle’s vector/path intersects a cyclist or pedestrian, then the vehicle will ignore a throttle input or steering input that would jeopardize the safety of the situation.
    http://www.oki.com/en/press/2009/01/z08113e.html

  • avatar
    Tinker

    I suppose a compatible device for pedestrians and bicycles will be designed that warns a vehicle of practically stationary things like pedestrians, bicycles, and posts along the route, that broadcasts “I AM NOT MOVING,I AM NOT MOVING, I AM SLOW AS HELL”, to all the new system equipped vehicles.”

    But pedestrians are transient obstacles, short-lived, unworthy of protection, in their free state. Bicycles are a bit more difficult than cars, but maybe a modified pedestrian device could be used, that simply forces motor vehicles to stop, remain fixed in place for several seconds while they clear the traffic area. You could require it in the helmets that you’d make them wear.

    And WHY not Pedestrian helmets, too? They’d be required within 100 ft of a motorway, be as garish as possible (ie TRULY HIDEOUS), and a 500 point penalty to your total trip score if you struck one. Pedestrians with non-functioning/no helmets would be fair game, and be a bonus, for drivers quick enough to remove them from the map.

  • avatar
    redav

    I just want to receive info FROM traffic lights to know when they will change so that I can better set my speed & time them.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    I have been forecasting these developments for a while. The revealed* preference of Americans is that they do not want to drive.

    The technology is now an optional feature on “luxury” cars. In a few years it will be available on all cars. Then it will be mandatory, and non-computerized vehicles will be banned from the road.

    The only places to drive will be closed courses. We, car-nuts and gear heads, will walk around saying:

    “Celui qui n’a pas vécu avant la Révolution ne connaît pas la douceur de vivre” (“Those who didn’t live before the Revolution do not know the sweetness of life”)

    – Talleyrand (1754 – 1838)

    But the fact is that we now have indoor plumbing, and non-smoky light.

    The truth about cars is that driving has become a pain because of traffic, SUVs, stop-light cameras, and a thousand other annoyances. My father bought a 55 Chevy convertible when it was new, and on a summer evening he would take us out for a drive. It is not something I would do now, nor would my children even think of doing. So I will nap and my car will drive, and we will all be better off.

    *A revealed preference is what people do as opposed to an expressed preference, which is what they say.

  • avatar
    kyubey

    No the truth is that we don’t want to drive ALL the time. Sometimes I like to rev up the engine and sometimes I would just like to get some reading and work done.

    I, for one, can’t wait until the fully automated cars are here. Too bad our broken legal system is hindering the process. Even if automated cars are proven safer vs human driving, lawyers will love the deep pockets of the auto companies for that 1 mistake the computer makes.


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