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Washington DC - It is the stuff of science-fiction movies, but vehicles traveling on US roads will soon be able to “talk” to one another to avoid accidents.
US regulators have green-lighted the use of vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology that can exchange basic safety data such as speed and position to help avoid collisions.
Announcing the approval, transportation secretary Anthony Foxx said: “Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of automotive safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we've already seen with seat belts and airbags,” said in .
“By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go while ensuring that the US remains the leader in the global automotive industry.”
Approval follows a test project begun in 2012 in which vehicles equipped with wireless devices were used to warn drivers about specific hazards such as an impending collision at a blind intersection, or a vehicle stopped ahead.
Officials said the technology could help avert rear-end, lane changing, and intersection crashes. But the systems do not include automatic braking or steering.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was finalising its analysis and would publish a report for public comment, with the goal of establishing rules for the new technology.
The agency said the systems would include “several layers of security and privacy protection” to ensure that vehicles can rely on messages sent from other vehicles for potential safety problems.
NHTSA acting administrator David Friedman said: “Decades from now we'll look back at this time as one in which the historical arc of transportation safety considerably changed for the better, similar to the introduction of standards for seat belts, airbags and electronic stability control technology.”
Scott Belcher, of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, a trade group representing transportation and technology industries, welcomed the announcement.
“The automotive industry has made great strides in reducing fatalities and injuries after a crash,” he said. “The next giant leap is to enable real-time communication between vehicles and with the world around them so crashes can be avoided in the first place,” Belcher said in a statement.