A small army of highly sophisticated research vehicles has been unleashed on the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan. No, these vehicles aren’t armored or carrying surveillance equipment – in fact, it’ll probably be impossible to tell them apart from the other mini-vans, trucks, and hatch-backs vying for position at the red light. What these “connected cars” will do is use Wifi to silently transmit information to transponders located on the state and city’s traffic infrastructure equipment. Researchers say this type of technology helps them better understand infrastructure and traffic flow, which could reduce traffic, accidents, and even pollution in the future.

US Department of Transportation, connected cars, connected vehicles, traffic, driving habits, safety, car accidents, University of Michigan

For the next year, 300 Ann Arbor citizens will drive these connected cars to and from work, school, and the movie theater. It’s all part of a $14.9 million study the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute that’s wants to learn more about how drivers behave and what situations they encounter when behind the wheel. Unbeknownst to their drivers, the connected cars will be constantly chattering, telling the transponders and an additional fleet of Aftermarket Safety Device-enhanced vehicles, about ‘location, speed, direction, driver and surrounding terrain, throttle, brake, and steering wheel angle data.’

According to Wired, “the mountain of resulting data will be used by the United States Department of Transportation to estimate the safety benefits of the connected car and its future implementations, while the transportation industry will gain access to vital information for developing safe, mobile, and environmentally sound applications using wireless communication technologies.” Researchers are hopeful that the study will also help reduce frequency of car crashes, which will in turn reduce back ups and environmentally-damaging idling.


Via Wired