connectivity matters
Intelligent Auto April 25, 2012  |  Written by

“Intelligent Auto” Technology Gets the Green Light

It seems that every year there is a rash of stories touting the coming era of “intelligent autos.”  Print, TV and online outlets typically starting running these pieces shortly after the major U.S. auto shows.  And each year, the promise of intelligent auto moves a few steps further from something you’d find in the latest concept car and closer to something you’d find in your driveway.  The government is fully on board with this sweeping initiative, as are automakers and many universities worldwide.

In reality, many of the applications envisioned for intelligent autos have been in use by the military and mining industry for some time now.  The big play for the consumer market, however, is the next step in automotive safety.  When vehicles equipped with wireless networking capabilities can “talk” with each other (V2V), as well as with roadside infrastructure (V2X), drivers are alerted to potential hazards.

The impact of the 10 million-plus motor vehicle accidents that occur in the U.S. each year is undeniable – nearly 33,000 deaths in 2010 alone, according to the NHTSA.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite them as the leading cause of death for people 5 to 34 years old.  Associated medical and lost work costs top $99 billion a year.  The impact on quality of life, the economy, and the environment is staggering.

Advances in vehicle design have brought these numbers down over time.  So we’re surviving more accidents.  Today’s emerging intelligent auto technology, meanwhile, is about avoiding accidents.  This is not a new development.  The FCC dedicated wireless spectrum for Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) back in 1999 with the express intent of allowing vehicles and infrastructure to exchange information.  Now, this vision is becoming reality, with pilots underway and a host of collision avoidance, traffic and condition monitoring systems in development.

Through our work in the military and mining arenas providing wireless mobile broadband, we’ve helped successfully deploy a wide range of bandwidth-intensive V2V and V2X applications running over Rajant Kinetic Mesh Networks.  The prospect of seeing similar applications revolutionizing the concept of motor vehicle safety and efficiency is exciting, and illustrates the flexible utility of the technology.  The fact that so many automakers are now incorporating these technologies into new designs is solid evidence that the future is here.  There are, and will be, countless new opportunities for innovation – innovation that will save lives, money, fuel and more.

I recently had the privilege of accompanying Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett and a contingent of Pennsylvania companies on a trade mission through Europe, where we met with (among many companies) a number of European automakers.  I’ll post more on this trip later; but suffice it to say that the Intelligent Auto is on a very fast track in Europe.


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