Covering the auto industry I've seen some amazing technology over the years, but the latest crash avoidance system I tested in Detroit last week ranks among the most fascinating.
It's called Intellidrive.
Using technology developed over the last nine years by a dozen major automakers working in conjunction with the federal government, Intellidrive basically revolves around cars "talking" to each other. Ok, they're not literally talking like the car in Knight Rider, but they are communicating.
Here's how it works.
Cars using GPS receivers and WiFi signals are constantly sending out data about their location and speed. As those signals bounce off other cars on the road or traffic signals at intersections, your car warns you when you are about to crash.
The scenarios where Intellidrive works to keep you from crashing are varied.
When I tested it, I was at a blind intersection and couldn't see a car approaching at roughly 35 miles per hour.
Just as I was about to turn into the path of the oncoming car, Intellidrive warned me to slam on the brakes.
Within a split second the system saved me from being sideswiped.
There's no doubt in my mind this technology will someday prevent millions of accidents and potentially save thousands of lives. In 2009 (the most recent data on crashes) there were 5.2 million accidents in the U.S. that injured 2.2 million people and killed another 33,808. That works out to one crash every six seconds.
How many of those accidents, injuries and deaths could be prevented because of Intellidrive? That's hard to say. But I do know that the base technology I tested out in Detroit will work. It's a peak into the future that moves us closer to cars driving themselves, but that's a whole different topic with a different set of issues- some of which drivers won't like.
Make no mistake, the "talking" car is coming. It will like be 6-7 years before Intellidrive is standard on all new cars, but it's coming.
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