V2X (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure) technology is not quite ready for prime time – or rush hour – but Roger Berg at DENSO International America says progress is being made, and cars could be talking to each other and to the roadway infrastructure, as early as 2015.
Berg says the technology is ready, except for a speed bump or two related to spoofing (broadcasting fake messages) and user privacy. The question is how to deploy it – via factory installation, aftermarket products, or both. DENSO is fine either way. It has the factory side covered, and Berg says the company also has an inexpensive DSRC (dedicated short-range communications) device that can broadcast and receive V2X messages.
DENSO can test V2X technology at a few intersections in Michigan and California. It’s planning some expanded testing in which vehicles equipped with DSRC will be able to communicate with all the traffic lights along a six-mile stretch of Telegraph Road in Southfield, Michigan. Drivers know how much time they have before the light changes and how fast (or slowly) they should drive to see only green lights.
The fuel saving benefit of all-green V2X technology is pretty clear and quite significant, but consider the potential for saving lives. Traffic fatalities were down in 2009 compared with 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), but NHTSA Administrator David Strickland says “we are still losing more than 30,000 lives a year on our highways, and about a third of these involve drunk driving.”
So someday, when a car is approaching an intersection and has a green light, the driver could be warned just in time, whether by another car or by a device positioned at the intersection, that another vehicle is about to run a red light. The sooner that technology is deployed, the better.