Ford's connected cars get street-smart
At AT&T Park in San Francisco, SmartPlanet correspondent Sumi Das talks to Ford's Mike Shulman about the company's research into intelligent vehicles. Ford's new technology allows vehicles to communicate through an advanced Wi-Fi signal so that drivers can be alerted of potential hazards and avoid collisions.
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>> Sumi Das: Ford Motor Company has been working on intelligent vehicles that can talk to each other wirelessly. With us to tell us more about it is Mike Schulman. He's an active safety research at Ford. Mike, thanks for being with us.
>> Mike Schulman: Thanks for having me.
>> Sumi Das: So tell us, first of all, how does this work? How do the cars talk to each other?
>> Mike Schulman: We're using a special channel that the FCC allocated for cars to talk to each other. Ten times a second every equipped vehicle will send out a little Tweet to every other vehicle around it that says here's my position and speed and here's where I'm going, and your car will start receiving all these messages, and as a driver, you mostly won't even know about it unless somehow you make a mistake or somebody is not paying attention, and then you'll get a warning that says beeping look out, there's something about to happen.
>> Sumi Das: It's all happening in the background then.
>> Mike Schulman: It's all happening in the background over this wireless channel that's using technology like GPS and wifi, which we use in our lives, beeping, in our smartphones all the time anyhow, just bringing that into the car.
>> Sumi Das: And what will this enable drivers to do, consumers to do in the future -
>> Mike Schulman: NFTA phonetic estimates that this would eliminate maybe 81 percent of all vehicle-to-vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers. So primarily it's a safety technology, but it's also opening up another communication channel for your vehicle to do other things, like mobility and environmental applications as well.
>> Sumi Das: Is there a specific type of crash, accident that it would be especially adept at avoiding?
>> Mike Schulman: One of the big opportunities for us is intersection crashes. We already have radar sensors on cars that can see things in front of us, and we have radars that look in the blind spot, but it's expensive technology. This will do that, but this will also help in intersection crashes, which are about a third of all the fatal crashes, and they're really hard to address with any other type of technology.
>> Sumi Das: And when will this be available? When can I, if I want to have this feature in my next car, find it?
>> Mike Schulman: Yeah, you, you, you will want to have this feature in your car once you realize how important it is, but, you know, we've been working on this together with other carmakers and the U.S. Department of Transportation since 2002. We're getting really close to doing what we call a model deployment. So in some city in the United States, background noise they'll be thousands of vehicles equipped with this to do a full-scale test next year, and then in 2013, NFTA said they would start a regulatory process to make this mandatory in all new cars, and we're also looking at how to retrofit this in existing cars. So it's one of those technologies that we really think it has a lot of potential.
>> Sumi Das: It's imminent then.
>> Mike Schulman: It, it, well, it's pretty, next five years I think crosstalk you'll start seeing it in cars because it's really affordable, and, and it really is very powerful, and, and that's why we're so excited about it.
>> Sumi Das: Mike, thanks so much for sharing this technology with us -
>> Mike Schulman: Well, thanks for having us. We're happy to be here.
>> Sumi Das: For "Smart Planet", I'm Sumi Das. Thanks for watching.
==== Transcribed by Automatic Sync Technologies ====