Technology Review: U.S. Tests Whether Consumers Like Car-to-Car Communications, January 24, 2012


Traffic is moving fast and freely. You glance down at your phone—just for a second—and then a warning tone alerts you to slam on the brakes. When you look up, you see the rear of the car you nearly plowed into.

That's the best-case scenario for new vehicle communication technologies that the U.S. Department of Transportation and eight automakers tested in Alameda, California, last week during the last six clinics designed to discover how ordinary drivers from across the United States react to cars that can talk to each other via Wi-Fi and warn drivers of impending collisions.

The DOT is studying whether such systems, known as vehicle-to-vehicle communication, or V2V, can reduce the number of accidents, save lives, and improve traffic flow. Depending on the test results, the agency could begin requiring that automakers install V2V systems in all new cars sometime this decade.

The clinic was held at Alameda Point, a decommissioned naval air station across the bay from San Francisco, where 120 men and women, 20 to 70 years old, got behind the wheels of new cars outfitted with the latest in vehicle-to-vehicle communication and safety gear.