Seeing is Believing: Talking Car Technology

As of last year, more than 32,000 people died on U.S. roadways. Astounding? I’d say so. What if there was a way to drop that number to less than 10,000? Meaning more than 20-some-thousand lives (that’s friends, family, loved ones) could be saved. Oh, and this is a technology that could help eliminate gridlock – saving you time and money – and reduce the amount of CO2 emissions your vehicle coughs out its tailpipe – greening the environment.

These are pretty enormous benefits, wouldn’t you say? I’m sure you have some questions. Like, what is this technology? Does this technology actually exist? And does it really work?

This technology actually does exist. For the past decade, automakers, suppliers and the government have been working to develop vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) technology, otherwise known as V2X, Connected Vehicle or Talking Car technology. V2X allows your vehicle to communicate with other vehicles and the infrastructure. For example, you’re at a stoplight and it just turned green. You’re about to punch the gas, but before you do, your car tells you the intersection is unsafe – stopping you from hitting the car that’s running the red light. That’s talking car technology.

This week, the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) is holding its first Connected Vehicle Driver Acceptance clinic in a suburb of Detroit. About 100 local drivers will test technologies that will help the USDOT learn more about how drivers respond to vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) systems.

This is a big step forward in moving to deploy connected vehicle technology. And here’s why. Testing this technology is key in gaining driver acceptance – seeing how people react to it, ensuring that it’s safe and not distractive. The USDOT’s pilot program also will test the effectiveness of the dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) devices. DSRC is the technology that will allow your car to “talk.” It’s a WiFi-like technology developed specifically for the automotive industry.

DENSO’s been working on DSRC technology since 2003 and its devices are among the equipment being tested in the USDOT’s Connected Vehicle clinics. You probably haven’t heard so much about DENSO being part of this initiative – as an automotive supplier, we’re more of a behind the scenes player. But, you’ve probably heard some of the automakers talk about V2X and how it can be incorporated into their vehicles to increase safety and help reduce congestion.

Seeing is Believing

Over the last several years, we’ve performed countless experiments to test and validate this technology. Not to mention all the demos we’ve done to show the benefits of these devices. Taking into account those experiences, one thing is certain. Seeing is believing.

You can talk about how this works, but the wow factor comes when you experience the technology for yourself.

I’m curious to hear what ordinary drivers think about the technology. It’s been a long time in the making. We’ve all been talking the talk and I know now it’s time to see if our efforts pay off and we can begin to walk the walk.

Note:  This perspective release was contributed by Roger Berg. Berg is Vice President of Wireless Technologies for DENSO International America (DIAM) located at DIAM’s North America Research Laboratory in Vista, Calif.  He is responsible for V2X technologies strategy and OEM and government relations.