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Car Speak lets cars see around blind corners

Reversing gingerly out of a blind driveway because you can’t see what’s coming could be a thing of the past. In the future, that is.

Car Speak could allow cars to alert each other to the dangers hidden by blind bends.
Car Speak could allow cars to alert each other to the dangers hidden by blind bends.

The MIT-developed technology known as Car Speak, created for use in self-driving cars, allows vehicles to communicate with each other, alerting one another to hidden dangers. Effectively, this means your car can ‘see’ around corners because nearby vehicles already on the bend in question can send out a digital warning about potential dangers.

Autonomous cars get about with the help of sensors, continuously scanning the road ahead for dangers. However blind corners provide a huge challenge for the vehicles as these sensors, like human eyes, can’t see as far ahead as the human eye or look around bends. Car Speak could eliminate this issue in one fell swoop, though only if the technology is fitted to most vehicles on the road — including those that aren’t autonomous. 

Car Speak raises the possibility of autonomous cars driving at higher speeds on motorways. As Magnus Egerstedt of Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology said in the report: “To be completely honest, the sensors in my autonomous cars don’t have sufficient range to allow driving on the interstate. Car Speak has the potential to make that footprint significantly larger.”

At the moment the MIT-developed technology has only been tested on golf buggies in Singapore, so it’s hard to tell how well the system works. But lead researcher Swarun Kumar told New Scientist that the next stage is to see how CarSpeak works with ‘multiple full-sized cars’.

Like all systems reliant on participation, Car Speak is only as good as the number of people that use it. If only three cars have the system fitted, and two of those are based up in Huddersfield and the third in Penzance, you aren’t going to see much of a benefit. But the potential for integrating this sort of data into Sat Navs and other safety systems could seeit become incredibly useful.

Source: New Scientist 
Image: Flickr

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