January 28, 2011, 3:35 PM — There are a lot of ideas out there for cutting down the number of accidents on highways, while making traffic a lot more efficient. Vehicles remote-controlled by intelligent road networks, artificial intelligence built into the cars so they can drive autonomously, systems that honk or shock or jolt drivers to wake them up when they start to nod off.
Most require lots of infrastructure and compute power, neither of which is likely to come with one car with a reasonable price, a couple of kids and a bunch of suitcases and beach toys for vacation. Most auto-autos are so packed with sensors and gear the developers can't ride in them, and are probably healthier for it.
Lacking all that, but eager to add preventative measures that sell for good prices to safety conscious consumers, carmakers are adding intelligence to the cars themselves to avoid crashes by doing little more than notice when another car is too close and warn it to watch its step.
They don't always work. In this 2011 test a Volvo crashed during a demonstration of its crash-avoidance system.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems could eliminate or reduce the damage from 4 crashes out of five that don't involve an impaired driver, according to a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Ford, GM, Toyota, Daimler and others have been working much of this decade on warning systems as part of various industry groups.