The Future of “Talking Cars”

By Katie Beasley | Good Day Atlanta transportation reporter​ | February 20, 2014

More than 30,000 people are killed in car wrecks every year in the U.S. By 2016, the government wants all new vehicles to have wireless radar-like systems, giving them the chance to communicate with one another. 

It turns out, this may just be the first wave of proactive technology to keep you safe. The next wave is being developed right now at Georgia Tech. 

Panagiotis Tsiotras, a professor in the School of Aerospace Engineering, has been studying vehicle active safety systems for years. He knows all the statistics. “Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death between ages 3 and 33,” notes Tsiotras.

It turns out, this may just be the first wave of proactive technology to keep you safe. The next wave is being developed right now at Georgia Tech.

Georgia Tech professor Panagiotis Tsiotras has been studying vehicle active safety systems for years. He knows all the statistics. “Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death between ages 3 and 33,” notes Tsiotras.

This new “Vehicle to Vehicle” technology will be able to send information between cars, warning drivers of potential collisions.

“Currently the vehicles are computers on wheels and the technology is only advancing, both in terms of hardware and software and in terms of algorithms. We have a unique opportunity to use this technology to decrease the traffic accidents,” explains Tsiotras.

Thanks to an alert on the dash, an audible signal or a vibration, the driver can react more quickly and avoid danger. “I see this as a guardian angel under the hood, in some sense, that keeps an eye how you’re driving and is ready there to intervene if something happens to avoid a collision,” says Tsiotras.

And Tsiotras and his team at Tech are working with Ford on even more proactive safety systems for 15 to 20 years down the road. “We’re working on systems that actually monitor and interpret driver intent. So, they figure out how you drive, they learn how you drive, your driving habits and they can actually figure out your state of mind, whether you’re fatigued, whether you’re stressed, agitated and actually they can react and they say can, ‘Oh okay, today you’re not driving well, so maybe I should be a little more proactive,’” explains Tsiotras.

They’re also researching abnormal and extreme driving conditions, for example in the case of skidding on ice, the car could recover itself.

“It’s very difficult to control a vehicle when it starts skidding. Very few people have the expertise and the driving skills to be able to able to control the vehicle when it starts skidding,” says Tsiotras.

With the “Vehicle to Vehicle” technology, instead of just alerting you to trouble, there’s a possibility the car could also bypass the driver and react on it’s own. Tsiotras says the next natural step could likely be self-driving vehicles. He says a lot of people are working on that technology right now.

Tsiotras believes the majority of cars on the road won’t have the “Vehicle to Vehicle” until closer to 10 years from now. In the meantime, he is concerned some people will become over reliant on the technology, assuming the other cars around them have it and will not pay attention as well.