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Connected-vehicle technology: a tool to prevent car accidents?

The dream of a creating a utopian culture in which all will be well is an old one. It speaks to the desire for perfection in the human heart, as well as our aversion to suffering. 

In recent years, this dream has increasingly taken technological form. Glimpses of it can be seen in the arguments made by apologists for Google's so-called driverless car. With cars and trucks guided by computers rather humans, the argument goes, human errors as a cause of car accidents or truck accidents will diminish.

The driverless car won't be rolling out nationally anytime soon. But automakers are already working on several safety technology experiments that are supposed to help drivers avoid accidents.

More specifically, the experiments concern installing programming in cars' navigation systems that will cause the cars to take action to avoid a crash if human drivers fail to do so.

For example, a car and a pedestrian's cellphone could conceivably contain embedded computer chips that would prompt a warning to appear on the car's screen. The warning could also appear on the phone. And if the warning is not heeded, the vehicle could be programmed to stop on an emergency basis.

The same type of system could potentially be used for motorcycles as well.

To be sure, all pedestrians do not have cellphones. Even in the Internet age, their use is not universal.

But federal safety officials see many positives in the connected-vehicle safety program. The U.S. Department of Transportation has already been running a pilot program for a year to collect data on the possible uses of the technology.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Honda shows safety technology that links cars, motrcycles, pedestrians," Alisa Priddle, August 29, 2013

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