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Coming soon: 'Talking' cars that detect obstacles kms ahead

Unlike the current system, the new technology would enable cars to 'know' what had happened kilometres ahead

After Google’s ‘driverless’ car and Terrafugia Inc.'s ‘flying’ car, now ready to hit the road are "Talking" cars! If a team of Italian scientists is to be believed, 'talking' cars will soon become a reality and not merely science fiction.

Earlier this month, Terrafugia Inc., the Woburn, Mass., company, won approval for its first ever flying car to be legally driven on America's roads and zoom in the sky. Last month, Nevada passed a bill, allowing the use of Google’s driverless cars on its roads.

According to a BBC report, scientists at University of Bologna in Italy have developed software that lets cars "communicate" with one another on the road.

Similar technology may have been applied previously, but this time, the Italian scientists claimed, it would enable the car to know what had happened kilometers ahead.

Tests done using the technology suggest it could bring motorway pile-ups down by as much as 40 percent.

How the technology works?
The researchers said that the so-called ‘talking cars’ wouldn't require human-like facial features to communicate with another vehicle on the road.

Rather than being vocally chatty like Knight Rider's KITT, 'talking cars' would be connected to each other through Wi-Fi and alert each other via acceleration sensors.

According to a BBC report, scientists at University of Bologna in Italy have developed software that lets cars "communicate" with one another on the road.

If a car in an accident experiences a sudden change in velocity, this message would be relayed back to other cars equipped with the technology.

All the cars on the road will link up either via a WiFi-enabled sensor fitted in a car, or via software downloaded on to a driver’s smartphone, according to Prof Marco Roccetti, who leads the team of researchers.

"Our app allows cars to stay in constant contact with each other," said Professor Roccetti. "They read each other. They know the direction and speed that all the other cars are traveling, and they also know their transmitting capacity.

"All this information is updated every second or so, and the frequency is optimised so that it doesn't slow the system down.

"When the signal is sent out, the car that is in the best condition knows that it has to forward the alarm signal - and so it does."

The conventional system relies on a radar-type mechanism that detects an obstacle on the road when it is directly in front of a car, which then brakes to avoid a crash.

New software lets cars know the obstacle kilometres ahead
Unlike the current system, the new technology would enable cars to 'know' what had happened kilometres ahead.

"By letting cars 'talk' to each other, we can see what happens kilometres ahead - whereas current technology, instead, allows cars to perceive an obstacle only when it is physically in front of them," said team member Professor Gustavo Marfia.

The new application for the automatic detection of accidents is expected to reduce accidents thus increasing road safety. The decrease in vehicular collisions emerged during computer simulations of the safety system which were detailed in a paper published in the journal 'Computer Networks.'

Reportedly, car maker Toyota will carry out the road tests of the software next month on the streets and motorways of Los Angeles.