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U.S. Department of Transportation Launches Major Test of Innovative Vehicle Safety Technology

U.S. Department of Transportation Launches Major Test of Innovative Vehicle Safety Technology

Safety Pilot gets green light to test new safety systems in a real-world environment


RITA 05-11
Nancy Wilochka

Friday, August 19, 2011, WASHINGTON, DC - The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today announced that the University of Michigan will conduct a road safety field trial in Ann Arbor, MI using innovative technology equipment in everyday vehicles in a real-time environment. This advanced technology will be tested in a major study over the course of a year, and may help significantly reduce the number of vehicle crashes on our nation's roads.

The Safety Pilot will include the installation of wireless devices in up to 3,000 vehicles in one location to evaluate the effectiveness of connected vehicle technology to prevent crashes. It will take place on the streets and highways of Ann Arbor, MI from August, 2012 to August, 2013 and will test connected vehicle technology in an everyday environment.

"Safety is our number one priority, and this research could save lives and prevent injuries across America," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "With more than 30,000 people a year killed on our nation's roads, we need to keep looking for new ways to improve safety and reduce fatalities."

During the pilot, drivers will be alerted to impending dangers in real-time so they can take action to avoid crashes. DOT will collect data from the vehicles in order to understand how different types of motorists respond to safety messages in the real world.

"This test will be an important step towards the U.S. Department of Transportation's top priority – a safer transportation system," said Peter Appel, administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration. "Technology is an investment in the future and this pilot deployment of vehicles that 'see' and 'talk' with one another with the help of wireless communication will allow us to learn how drivers use electronic alerts to avoid crashes in a real-world environment."

"We envision connected vehicle technology as a platform to save many lives on America's roads, and foster innovations we've yet to imagine - a game-changer for vehicle safety," said National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator David Strickland. "When completed, the pilot will demonstrate first-hand how connected vehicles communicate in the real world, bringing us a step closer to what could be the next major safety breakthrough."

The Safety Pilot is the second part of a two-part Connected Vehicle research initiative. The first part is the Safety Pilot Driver Acceptance Clinics, which began on Aug. 8, 2011. The driver clinics are the first step in identifying how motorists respond to innovative wireless devices for safety. Participants in the six driver acceptance clinics will test cars equipped with connected vehicle devices in a controlled environment where researchers can observe the drivers' responses to the technology. The connected vehicle technology uses dedicated spectrum at 5.9GHz known as Dedicated Short-Range Communication (DSRC).

To continue the data collection under real-world conditions, the safety pilot announced today will allow drivers using cars, trucks, and transit vehicles fitted with wireless devices to carry out their normal routines while their vehicles sense the presence of other equipped vehicles nearby.

The Connected Vehicle Safety Pilot research program was created to collect data in order for NHTSA to make a decision about the use of connected vehicle technology that is based on reliable, scientific information. NHTSA's decision on the future of connected vehicle technology is expected to be made in 2013 for light vehicles and in 2014 for heavy vehicles.