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Telemetrics in cars is nothing new. Many drivers will be aware of insurance companies installing gizmos in cars to report back on driving styles and set premiums accordingly. This has caused some controversy, with disquiet about the 'big brother' aspect of this technology.

Telemetrics in cars is nothing new. Many drivers will be aware of insurance companies installing gizmos in cars to report back on driving styles and set premiums accordingly. This has caused some controversy, with disquiet about the 'big brother' aspect of this technology. Talking cars are nothing new either, many drivers of a certain vintage will remember the talking Austin Maestro of some years ago. Satellite navigation has also been around for a while, some systems warning of road works and the like. Now though, a system is being trialled that brings together technologies like these to deliver a truly useful advance in drive communications that could be a real safety breakthrough.

 

Within a few years, the next new car you buy could be something of a chatterbox. These new vehicles could soon be equipped with a technology called 'car-to-x' which is being trialled in Germany. Using this technology, your car will constantly 'talk to' other cars on the road. Pooling information with other cars on the road ahead to 'see' hazards and warn of conditions far beyond the driver's normal range of vision. This real-time information could include warnings of accidents and even just emergency stops on the road ahead, allowing the driver to slow down and take easy evasive action.

 

The technology is being developed by a consortium of vehicle manufacturers, together known as Safe Intelligent Mobility Testfield (SimTD) which includes major players like Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Ford and Opel. The consortium has already conducted the largest test of car-to-car communications in the world so far, involving 500 cars over 1.1 million miles. SimTD reckons that the first production cars using the technology will be available from 2015. Looking inside these cars you will see few signs of change. There is a monitor on the dash that looks much like a standard sat-nav screen. Warnings will be fed to the driver via the screen or by other methods such as a vibrating steering wheel or pedals.

 

The system will also communicate with other systems, such as traffic lights and motorway warning signs and has great potential to ease congestion, reduce accidents and save fuel. SimTD project leader, Dr Christian Weiss explains: "If we succeed in making traffic more fluid, we improve mobility. That also has an impact on the environment. If you have smoother traffic, you use less fuel." In Germany alone it is reckoned that the system could save up to £10 billion per year in accident, injury and congestion related costs. It should not be too long before we see similar savings in the UK.

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