Talking cars will soon make the leap from the latest children's animation onto our roads in a bid to improve safety -- but they won't be talking to us.
Adelaide-based vehicle technology leader Cohda Wireless is poised to become a major beneficiary of a US Department of Transportation decision to green light 'talking cars' on American roads.
This week, the department's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced it will start taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for light vehicles.
Pioneered by Adelaide-based Cohda Wireless, V2V technology promises to improve safety by allowing vehicles to "talk" to each other and ultimately avoid many crashes altogether by exchanging basic safety data, such as speed and position, ten times per second.
Cohda Wireless chief executive, Paul Gray, said Cohda was perfectly poised to take advantage of this new development.
"We are delighted that the DOT has decided to deploy V2V technology more widely," he said.
"About half of all vehicles involved in V2V trials globally contain Cohda equipment, including 1500 of the 2800 vehicles involved in the important Safety Pilot Model Deployment project that has given the DOT the confidence to make this decision."
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said vehicle-to-vehicle technology represented the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we've already seen with safety belts and airbags."
DOT research indicates that safety applications using V2V technology can address a large majority of crashes involving two or more motor vehicles.
With safety data such as speed and location flowing from nearby vehicles, vehicles can identify risks and provide drivers with warnings to avoid other vehicles in common crash types such as rear-end, lane change and intersection crashes.
Gray said the major benefit of the DOT decision was market clarity.
"It removes uncertainty about the deployment of Cohda's products," he said.
"The market will now switch from a 'trial' phase to a 'deployment' phase, a step change that enables Cohda to now engage earnestly with car makers to deploy Cohda products.
"The key longer term benefits are twofold: Firstly we now see production vehicles containing Cohda products hitting the road as early as 2016; Secondly a mandate from the US Government will see this rolled out to all new vehicles in a few short years after that."
The safety applications have been demonstrated with everyday drivers under both real-world and controlled test conditions.
Cohda Wireless is a major player in the development of V2V technology, counting global networking giant Cisco Systems and automotive component manufacturer NXP Semiconductor among its shareholders.
Cohda's patent-protected technology, embedded in the Cohda/NXP RoadLINK chipset, exchanges messages reliably across an extended range and at high speed, cutting 'time to react' and communicating potential hazards and safety-critical scenarios much faster than conventional applications. This has seen strong early adoption of Cohda's products.
As well as providing the lion's share of equipment into the US DOT trial in Ann Arbor, where 1500 of 2800 vehicles are equipped with Cohda devices, Cohda's V2V equipment will appear on the US DOT Qualified Products List and Cohda is participating in the inaugural US DOT Plugfest for DSRC equipment, where vendors test their equipment for interoperability.