The glitz around the development of autonomous vehicles has obscured what is a more near-term automotive safety innovation, one that will have a much bigger impact on the aftermarket: connected cars.
Mohamad Talas, the leader of the New York City connected vehicle demonstration pilot, which just received a phase 2, $20-million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), says. "Autonomous vehicles are not around the corner in New York City." But connected vehicles are.
New York City is one of three demonstration sites just awarded phase 2 connected vehicle pilot demonstration grants from the DOT. The other two are Tampa, Fla., and the state of Wyoming. A major role in all three pilots will be played by aftermarket safety devices (ASDs) which allow autos to communicate with each other and with roadside infrastructure.
The New York City deployment of ASDs will far outnumber anything that has been done before, including the DOT's Safety Pilot in Ann Arbor, Mich. That’s where 300 vehicles have been tested with ASDs and another 2,400 with vehicle awareness devices (VADs), which have no driver interface and cannot receive basic safety messages (BSMs), so are less valuable in terms of preventing accidents. Tampa, for example, will deploy 1,500 ASDs.
New York City and the other two sites will be testing ASD technology both inside and outside a vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) template. There will be 250 intersections in Manhattan and Brooklyn where roadside equipment will be installed. But the ASDs will have significant safety benefits outside the V2I infrastructure.
"Wherever two vehicles with ASDs are, they can send safety signals, detect each other and send safety messages," Talas explains.
Moreover, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology used for connected vehicles will enhance the capabilities of autonomous vehicles. John Estrada, CEO of eTrans Systems, says, "To get the full advantage of autonomous vehicles we want them to be able to communicate with one another."