When the roads talk, your car can listen. Technology can detect things like icy roads and precipitation, so many in the transportation sector see a future of cars calling authorities with updates on road conditions. These networks could then mobilize snowplows, road repair crews and law enforcement in terms of locating accidents immediately after they happen when they cause a traffic slowdown.
Cars could become scouts for snowplows, pothole repair crews, police officers, ambulance drivers and even helicopter pilots. Once you have the ability to gather data from all the cars on a roadway network, and a back-end computer, you would have all kinds of capability to take actions.
Many have anti-skid systems, which take control of the brakes when they sense that the wheels are turning at different speeds or that the car is pointed in the wrong direction. Eventually, all cars will have anti-skid technology.
If the anti-skid system is activated in one car on a particular stretch of highway, that might mean nothing more than that the driver is reckless or inexperienced. But if the systems on several vehicles are activated in the same place, it might mean, for example, that there is an icy patch on the road. And if those cars could communicate their locations to a central computer, a sanding truck could be dispatched to the area.
You can find a crack in the road and fix it before it becomes a hole,” said T. Russell Shields, chairman of Ygomi, a business software and communications company that is studying how to connect cars to a central reporting station.
There also are privacy considerations. Many people might favor a crash emergency system that would function as a burglar alarm, alerting the authorities if the owner was unable to do so. But such a system could also transmit data revealing that the car was speeding when it crashed. For some drivers, that might be more information than they want their cars to supply.