Chicago Auto Show Blog

Smart cars can save lives and gas

Posted by: Mark Bilek

Ford wants to make your car smarter, a lot smarter. Would you like your car to warn you of a potential collision while you still had time to do something about it? How about suggesting an alternate route that would not only save you time, but also save on gas? Or perhaps you're heading to Navy Pier, your car could find and reserve a parking space for you.

These are all ideas Ford has been working on in conjunction with other major automakers. The technology exists today and isn't as complex as you would think. In fact, most of the hardware already exists in your vehicle today. With the addition of a simple WiFi transmitter and some software, the smart technology can begin to make our roads safer, more efficient and more user friendly.

The thinking is quite simple. Use GPS technology to place your vehicle to within 1 meter. Add in the history of your trip, perhaps the last 30 seconds or so. Then add in things like vehicle speed, turn signals, brake application. Broadcast that information via short-range WiFi to surrounding vehicles. Once every vehicle starts transmitting, your car can get a digital picture of the traffic around you and warn you if you're about to get into a collision.

Obviously, the technology will take time to perfect and implement, but Ford engineers say that once in ten vehicles are so equipped, you'll start saving fuel and see travel times reduced. Get transmitters in one in four vehicles and we'll be able to start reducing accidents.

Though smart highways with cars the drive themselves are quite a ways off, this simple and cost-effective solution can start making our roads safer in just a few years. Take a look at this video from Ford to get a better idea of how the technology works.

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