Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

World’s largest field test of connected vehicle technology gets underway in the U.S.


August 22, 2012

Some 3,000 vehicles equipped with wireless technology that allows them to communicate have taken to the roads in the Ann Arbor in the world's biggest field test of V2V and V2I technology (Image: GM)

Some 3,000 vehicles equipped with wireless technology that allows them to communicate have taken to the roads in the Ann Arbor in the world's biggest field test of V2V and V2I technology (Image: GM)

Image Gallery (2 images)

Hot on the heels of Daimler announcing the largest ever field-test of its car-to-X vehicle communications system in Germany, a similar program being conducted by the U.S. Department of Transport (DoT) got underway this week in the Ann Arbor region of Michigan. Whereas the Daimler trial involves 120 network-linked vehicles, the Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot Model Deployment Program will see some 3,000 vehicles hitting the road in the world's biggest ever real world test of connected-vehicle communication technology.

Described as a “scaled-down version of a future in which all vehicles will be connected,” the model deployment, which is being conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) as part of a US$22 million partnership with the DoT, is designed to determine how well vehicle wireless communication technology works in real world conditions and the effectiveness of vehicle to vehicle (V2V) and vehicle to infrastructure (V2I) systems in improving road safety.

Of the 3,000 vehicles taking part in the 12 month-long model deployment, which includes cars, commercial trucks and transit vehicles, 64 will have embedded devices, around 300 will have aftermarket safety devices, and the remainder will have simple transmission-only vehicle awareness devices. Most vehicles in the test fleet have been supplied by volunteer participants from the Vehicle Safety Communications 3 Consortium, such as GM, which is providing eight V2V-equipped Buick and Cadillac cars.

Ann Arbor was chosen for the program due to its mix of traffic, variety of roadway types and characteristics, seasonal weather and proximity to vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. The project has also seen 73 lane miles (117 km) of Ann Arbor roadway fitted with 29 roadside-equipment installations that will be used for the V2I portion of the model deployment.

To test the effectiveness of V2V and V2I systems, the model deployment vehicles will wirelessly send and receive electronic data from each other and infrastructure. In the event of specific hazardous traffic scenarios, such as an impending collision at a blind intersection, a vehicle changing lanes in another vehicle’s blind spot, or a potential rear end collision with a stopped vehicle, the data will be translated into a warning for the driver of the relevant vehicle or vehicles.

“Vehicle-to-vehicle communication has the potential to be the ultimate game-changer in roadway safety – but we need to understand how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real world,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “NHTSA will use the valuable data from the ‘model deployment’ as it decides if and when these connected vehicle safety technologies should be incorporated into the fleet.”

GM, which is also working on a system that uses Wi-Fi Direct technology to add pedestrians and cyclists to the connected mix, says analysis of the data collected by the 3,000 vehicles could see V2V technology deployed on a wide scale before the end of the decade.

The model deployment is the second phase of the DoT’s connected vehicle Safety Pilot, which is part of a joint research initiative led by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Research and Innovative Technologies Administration (RITA) Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office. The first phase involved a series of “driver acceptance clinics,” which revealed that 9 out of 10 drivers that had experienced V2V technology thought highly of its safety benefits and would like the technology in their own vehicle.

Sources: DoT, RITA, GM, UMTRI

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

They need to make this hack proof and virus proof. Otherwise, hackers would try to turn this sytem of accident prevention into a system that causes accidents and other chaos.


When they perfect V2V communication, it'd be nice to be able to donate micropayments to drivers who do you favors. Sometimes you can save a minute if the guy ahead had only been a little further to the left to let you turn. If the car ahead of me moves to the left to stop at a red light while I have my right blinker on, I'd be glad to pay them 25 cents as a friendly gesture. This would incentivize considerate driving. Perhaps advertisers could even subsidize some or all of the payments, making you have to view a text ad to receive the payment.

Steve Pender

MrGadget, While the potential for hackers to disrupt V2V and V2I is real, perfect security is not needed to deploy. This is an additional layer of signaling on top of traffic lights, stop signs and so on. When V2V and V2I fail, there will still be the usual line-of-sight systems we already use.

Bruce McHenry

SOMETHING TO PONDER: Wow - we are turning into a Borg Hive nation of automatons - resistance is futile. What we are witnessing is the creation of technology to enslave and control us. What ever happened to free will to think and choose for ourselves?

Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles