Cars are an integral part of our day-to-day life, entrusting them to get us safely from point A to point B. In fact, people put so much value on their cars that they often personify them, giving them names and speaking of them as if they are members of the family (The ’96 Toyota Camry I had throughout college was named Gus…may he rest in peace). This has become common practice, but a recent Wired article I read by Doug Newcomb gave personifying our cars a whole new meaning.
According to the article, Mercedes-Benz parent company, Daimler and the National Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) are leading what is being deemed “the first ‘social network’ for automobiles.” While our nation’s cars won’t be retweeting celebrities or Instagramming pictures of their food (yet), they will engage in social media in the basic sense – cars will be communicating with each other. By “talking” to each other, surrounding infrastructure and Wi-Fi communications, the vehicles in the project will avoid accidents and traffic jams.
The trial, called Vehicle-to-X communication (V2X) will be carried out in Frankfurt, Germany and Ann Arbor, Michigan. The goals of each experiment vary, as the U.S. version’s sole focus is on reducing accidents. In fact, according to the NHTSA, technology such as this could impact more than 80 percent of crashes.
While V2X’s most fundamental benefit is reducing the number of traffic accidents, the technology also has environmental and convenience benefits. By coordinating traffic lights according to traffic density, driving will become more fuel-efficient and environmentally-friendly – allowing users to find the best driving routes and even the closest available parking spots.
I think technology such as this has the potential to fundamentally change the way we operate our vehicles – for the better. Not only will it make driving safer, but will give Americans a new reason to be obsessed with their cars (or Gus, in my case).