Can Cars Talk? Cisco, Intel, and Google Think So

Technology is quickly changing our vehicles and roadways. Major technology companies, including Google, Cisco, and Intel, have become interested in the automobile industry. The basic question tech companies are asking is this: Since human error and lack of information causes so many accidents and delays, how can we decrease human error and increase information access for all drivers? This is of particular interest to public transportation and law enforcement, but the applications are limitless. The services of transporting cars such as the protection of enclosed services could utilize these technologies to save time and money – with the potential for greater automation and direct communication between customer and car.

Not One But Two Technology Breakthroughs

Two specific types of technology have developed. One is the self-driven car aka the “autonomous vehicle” (move over Frankenstein), which has now been legalized in Nevada and California. That invention is captivating but unexpected for public release until 2017. A technology that will likely impact us more quickly – and what has Intel and Cisco scrambling for first-to-market rights, is vehicle-connection technology. This technology will allow communication between cars so that perception of an accident or an icy bridge can be immediately spread to other drivers. Once the technology becomes widespread, it will affect everything. In the auto shipping industry, for example, it will mean the cheapest auto transport companies can provide the same high-tech safety in transit.

Vehicles Communicating with Stoplights?

A discussion still on the table is whether it is enough to just connect cars, or alternately, whether it is wise to connect stoplight cameras, street sensors, and various other technologies to the roadways themselves. Applying technologies at the level of the road infrastructure will mean that drivers are not just reliant on each other but that a governmental system is accessing and distributing the information as well. The major issue with governmental involvement, though, is cost. The annual cost currently projected by the federal government for just one piece of the system, upgrading the chips sufficiently in traffic lights, is $400 million. The economic impact, then, would be significant. Vehicle transport rates might be reduced because accidents would become much less common, but the tax burden could be enormous.

Cuts Down on Accidents!

There is another way to look at this, though. Looking back at the idea of car accidents, the tab on those each year is almost a quarter of a trillion dollars! Looking at the pros and cons of driver-connection technology is certainly a debate that should be gaining more and more prominence as time goes by – to determine, at a social level, whether it is worth it.

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