A year-long crash-avoidance pilot project involving nearly 3,000 ‘connected’ vehicles has been launched in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

The test, involving cars, trucks and buses equipped with wi-fi technology that allows the vehicles to ‘talk’ to each other ('V2V'), is the largest of its kind, according to the US Department of Transportation.

The USD25m project, which is being coordinated by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, was launched by transportation secretary Ray LaHood who said: “This cutting-edge technology offers real promise for improving both the safety and efficiency of our roads.”

The test cars, trucks and buses are equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication devices that gather data about how traffic is flowing and warns of potential hazards and help to reduce crashes.
According to DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), V2V safety technology could help drivers avoid or reduce the severity of four out of five unimpaired vehicle crashes.

Hazards that the technology can highlight include an impending collision at a blind intersection, a vehicle changing lanes in another vehicle’s blind spot, or a rear collision with a vehicle stopped ahead.

“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.”

More than 70 miles of roads in and around Ann Arbor have been fitted with transmitters and receivers to help relay the messages.

Vehicle makers taking part are Daimler, Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.