In 2009, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) launched an initiative to bring sophisticated computer technologies into vehicles. The program, called IntelliDrive, is now in its pilot phase, and we may soon begin to see more IntelliDrive-equipped vehicles on the road.
What is IntelliDrive?
IntelliDrive is a suite of computer technologies and software applications that aim to improve safety and mobility.
It provides vehicles with wireless communication functionality that allows vehicles to communicate with:
- each other;
- roadway infrastructure; and
- other wireless devices.
The program essentially gives each car a “heartbeat,” sending out a wireless signal to other vehicles, as well as taking in information from other vehicles, the environment, and driver input.
IntelliDrive will be able to perform functions such as warning drivers when a crash is about to occur and informing them of upcoming dangerous road conditions or congestion. It’s sort of like a diligent copilot, always on the ready and looking out for drivers’ safety.
Benefits of IntelliDrive
The primary objective behind IntelliDrive is increasing roadway safety. Over five million accidents occur on the roads each year, killing over 30,000 people, and injuring another 2.2 million, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data.
DOT believes that if and when automakers fully implement IntelliDrive, it could reduce up to 80 percent of crashes for non-impaired drivers, according to David Strickland of the NHTSA. That’s a huge benefit with the potential to save a lot of lives.
In addition to reduced risk of crashes, there are two other notable potential benefits:
- Fuel economy – IntelliDrive will be able to predict trip information and provide detailed traffic data, allowing drivers to reroute when there are dangerous or congested conditions. A Clemson University release reports that “researchers expect it has the potential to reduce U.S. reliance on petroleum and other greenhouse gas-producing fuels, reduce pollution, save energy, minimize the long-term cost of living expenses and improve driving conditions.”
- Lower insurance premiums – Because of increased safety, many insurance companies may begin to offer discounts for drivers with IntelliDrive-equipped vehicles. Travelers Insurance, for instance, is already offering a 10 percent discount for new IntelliDrive customers in certain states (as of this writing, the program is unavailable in Florida).
The Future of IntelliDrive
The creators and proponents of IntelliDrive are conducting research now that the system is in its pilot phase. They will have to convince lawmakers that its benefits are great enough to make new laws mandating manufacturers incorporate the technologies into newly-manufactured vehicles.
MIT Technology Review provides a timeline on when we can expect to see this new technology implemented: “Vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication is expected to become commonplace within the next decade or so. A study published in March of this year by ABI Research concluded that a little over 60 percent of new cars would feature the technology by 2027.”
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