The march of technology continues, bringing us closer to the day when owning your own car may be less important than on-demand transportation services. And closer to the day when we expect our cars to be super-connected to just about everything.
Automakers are laying the groundwork for this new era, as seen in some announcements this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The University of Michigan has just opened a brand-new testing facility for autonomous vehicles, or “AVs.”
MCity will test the AV technology in a very realistic off-roadway environment, a key step before connected and automated vehicles and systems are deployed on actual roadways.
Autonomous vehicles are something of a rarity. Companies like Google are running some tests on real roads, but seeing one on the road is a little like spotting a hummingbird in your yard: a brief, fascinating sight, sparking curiosity as you watch it disappear into the world.
A few years ago, most of us would not know what the phrase "connected vehicles" meant. Today, the technology is being used in more vehicles, in hopes of cutting down on accidents and traffic jams.
A new study from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute finds that even as the public welcomes the prospect of safer driving, they are still worried about being hacked and preserving their privacy.
We were joined by the researchers who conducted this study.
The University of Michigan has announced a collaboration with government and business to make its hometown of Ann Arbor the first American city with a shared fleet of networked, driverless vehicles by 2021.
The school says its Mobility Transformation Center is pursuing the goal of having a driverless vehicle system in operation within eight years.
The world's largest-ever test of connected vehicle technology got underway in Ann Arbor this week.
Experts predict that our cars will one day routinely "talk" to one another with wireless communication devices -- preventing huge numbers of traffic accidents.
Already, ordinary motorists have experienced driving with the devices on closed courses. One study was held last year at the Michigan International Speedway.
Now, in the next step, the technology is being tested under real-world conditions. By October, the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI for short) plans to install some version of wireless car-to-car communication devices in nearly 3,000 people's cars, as well as on some city and school busses.
Traffic signal-to-car communication devices will be installed at numerous intersections; others will be mounted near potentially dangerous sections of roadway.
See a video of how the technology works:
For a year, the motorists will travel their usual ways, occasionally crossing paths.
UMTRI will collect the data, which will eventually help researchers determine how well the technology works in real life. Researchers may be able to prove that a handful of accidents were averted.
But the real potential for the technology is when it is adopted on a wide scale, in millions of vehicles.
UMTRI Director Peter Sweatman thinks the potential to save lives is huge.
"Motor vehicle injuries and fatalities are the number one public health problem in this country -- I don't think people realize that," Sweatman says, standing in a big garage bay where technicians are installing the devices in study participants' cars. "Between the ages of 1 and 35 - that's the no. 1 cause of death!"
About 100 people will “start their engines,” at the Michigan International Speedway this week. But it won’t be for a race. The MIS is lending its track to the U.S. Department of Transportation to test vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.
Connected vehicle technology allows cars to communicate with other cars and the road.
Devices installed in a car warn a driver that a crash is imminent or that they’re about to run a red light.