Talking cars? The future is coming - perhaps

It’s interesting to see that momentum finally seems to be gathering behind the concept of car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communications.

The idea of vehicles being able to identify and communicate with each other is not new, but, rather like flying to the moon, we have had to wait not just for the technology to catch up with the idea, but for the idea to gain traction among those vested interests who will be responsible for making it happen. It appears this piece of the puzzle has now been put in place. A consortium including Ford, Audi, Volkswagen Mercedes, Vauxhall/Opel, BMW and numerous component suppliers has created a fleet of 120 vehicles that are covering thousands of miles, all chatting away to each other at the same time. The possibilities are endless. Let’s say a truck has shed a tyre tread in the middle of the road: the Highways Agency beams out a message to all cars in the vicinity which can then tell their drivers the nature and location of the hazard.

It’s not just about safety, either. Traffic lights could talk to cars as they approach, advising them how to moderate their speed to ensure you arrive when they’re green, cutting the inefficient stop and start process we have at the moment and saving huge quantities of fuel as well.

Sadly I think it will be a while before these technologies become common in the cars we drive. Even if the science has been cracked, there are all sorts of inventions that face a lifetime on the shelf because they cannot be brought to market at a price the customer is prepared to pay.

Also, the success of the project depends on its popularity. It’s all very well having cars that can talk to others, but if none of them is capable of replying, the technology is useless. It would have to be fitted as standard to every new car sold, and right now that’s rather hard to envisage.