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What’s ahead: cars on road in peer group

Physorg describes research aimed towards building a peer network for automobiles on the motorway. The idea is that a car in distress, such as in a crash, could tell others about the event. The other vehicles could then take action to avoid joining a pile-up. Vehicles farther away could re-route their path to avoid the scene.

An interesting facet of this research is about how to reduce network congestion while still propagating a message. This involves some algorithm to figure out who can best forward the message and some agreement that will assure it being forwarded.

They read each other. They know the direction and speed that all the other cars are travelling. And they also know their transmitting capacity. All this information is updated every second or so. And the frequency is optimised so that it doesn’t slow the system down. When the signal is sent out, the car that is in the best condition knows that it has to forward the alarm signal. And so it does. This halves the propagation times.

This is far field contextual awareness. Near field is in use right now with automatic parallel parking available in some vehicles. The driver is still the responsible party for line of sight ranges but automated lane detection systems are assisting with that. This research provides awareness that reaches beyond line of sight. The peer communications can be used in other ways as well.

The business in question however goes far beyond the accident-prevention software. What Italian and US researchers have been working on for years is the prospect of bringing the Internet into cars at a reduced cost.

In other words, when you take your car out on the road it will join a mobile community. It will become a link in a network that accesses the broader I’net as well as shares important information to help you get to your destination safely and most efficiently. This gets into the evolution in navigation devices which have progressed from simple location (GPS) devices to navigation devices to incorporating FM subcarrier traffic information to smart phones with online maps and navigation. The peer network idea will allow adding information about road conditions, traffic congestion, and other factors that can be used to help improve traffic flow.

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