The automotive world has done a huge amount to make the most modern vehicles as safe as possible. Everything from complex, software-driven driver aids to inertia-reel seatbelts play their part, but could one new technology be set to make a host of others even more effective?
Seasoned fleet drivers who have been equipped with up-to-date cars, vans and trucks will be well aware of the benefits of adaptive cruise control and anti-lane departure systems. Such solutions use internal radar and sensors to establish where other vehicles are around them.
Consequently, their reaction times, and the way in which they speed up and slow down, can occasionally stutter and not run as smoothly as advertised.
Could road safety be improved by vehicles that 'talk' to each other?
The next innovative step
So, what's the answer to this problem? Could it be solved if vehicles effectively 'talk' to each other? That's where vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology comes in. In essence, such systems use small radio transmitters to allow cars, vans and trucks to establish the position of other vehicles out on the open road, according to Car and Driver.
Naturally, the technology is reliant on manufacturers fitting it to their vehicles going forward, but research collated by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) surmised that V2V communication could be the norm in the next two years.
Ultimately, the benefits in safety will drive that aggressive period of adoption. MIT explained that over one million people are killed on roads across the world every single year, and vehicles that can 'talk' to each other could play a huge role in reducing that figure.
— Angela Yu (@wangela) May 17, 2015
A connected fleet
Wired predicted that the V2V tech will go on to influence the direction of the wider class of connected car solutions that could soon enter the mainstream. What could this mean for fleet managers and their drivers?
Well, as mentioned, the chances of accidents out on highways and byways across New Zealand may well be reduced. Moreover, each fleet vehicle could be more easily interconnected with one another, meaning that there'll be a whole swathe of data to collate and compare.
— Stéphane Schultz (@15marches) September 10, 2014
Using a specific example, fleet managers could garner economy information from each one of their vehicles on-the-fly, making it easy to check how much value is being unlocked from trips to the service station as well as the cost savings provided by any business fuel cards.
Technology has been a driving force in the automotive space for some time. While cars, trucks and vans that can actively communicate may seem like an idea from the future, such systems could soon be making roads safer in the here and now.