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U.S. Department of Transportation to test connected vehicle technologies in six cities

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May 13, 2011—The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced six cities where it will hold Connected Vehicle Drive Clinics for drivers. The clinics will test new technologies that will help the USDOT learn more about how drivers respond to vehicle-to-vehicle communications that can help reduce traffic accidents and save lives.

The USDOT is working with the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), a research consortium of eight automobile manufacturers, to develop technology that will help vehicles avoid crashes by communicating with nearby vehicles and roadway infrastructure—such as traffic signals, dangerous road segments and grade crossings. Drivers will receive safety warnings when there is a risk of a crash or other safety driving hazards, according to the USDOT.

The CAMP vehicle safety consortium includes: Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp., Honda Motor Co., Hyundai Kia Automotive Group, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan Technical Center North America, Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen of America Inc., according to the USDOT.

The Connected Vehicle Drive Clinics are part of a USDOT research program conducted by the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“Connected vehicle technology has the potential to address 81 percent of all unimpaired driver related crashes,” said RITA Administrator Peter Appel. “We must take a serious look at how this technology will work in the real world to create a safer transportation system.”

The clinics will take place in urban, suburban and rural communities throughout the country. The first clinic will be held in Brooklyn, Mich. in August. The remaining clinics will be held in Minneapolis, Orlando, Fla., Blacksburg, Va., Dallas and San Francisco.

The clinics will measure the acceptance by ordinary drivers of in-car collision warnings, “do not pass” alerts, warnings that a vehicle ahead has stopped suddenly and other similar safety messages. The USDOT will also use the clinics to test the performance of wireless safety technology, known as Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC).

About 100 drivers will be recruited for each clinic. Each clinic will include 24 cars equipped with DSRC-based safety applications. Researchers will evaluate drivers as they use the vehicles in a controlled environment designed to simulate real roadways and intersections, according to the USDOT.

After the driver clinics are completed, the U.S. Department of Transportation will deploy thousands of wirelessly connected vehicles to test how the technology performs in a real world driving environment, which is scheduled to begin in 2012.

The driver clinics and the model deployment results will help NHTSA decide, in 2013, if the technology is advanced enough for NHTSA to begin a series of rulemakings that could require manufacturers to provide vehicle-to-vehicle communications capabilities in new vehicles.

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