Vehicles That Talk to Each Other to Know What Lanes They’re In


Hello blog readers! It has been a bit since my last post; the flu has been alive and well in this old man’s 59 year old body for the last week. In the meantime, I have a load of blogs topics that I am working through. I am in barrage mode, so be prepared.

This article, which discusses a cool GPS method of maintaining vehicles in their respective lanes, is only one a bunch of new technologies that may make the daily car commute into something akin to a bus ride. Most tech-oriented folk know that, while GPS is great for navigating to the nearest Starbucks, trusting it to guide your Beemer up highway 5 at 80 mph may push the limits of the concept “trust”.

Part of the problem is that the GPS signal the we can us is accurate within 13 meters or so (basically 40 ft). This is about the width of a 3 lane freeway. Now, these particular researchers use other GPS devices in nearby vehicles to “confirm” and tighten the accuracy of the location, so that the radius of operation can be shrunk to single lane proportions.

So what’s in this for us? I see this “breakthrough” as part of a whole suite of technologies that will get us to the intelligent highway. For instance, entries in the DARPA autonomous car challenge (which happened recently) used GPS for gross direction finding, and intelligent visual video processing and artificial intelligence to actually “see” and drive the desert course.

In another promising technology that I saw a few years ago at a Sensors show, I watched a “mote” (small communication device) salesman move a batch of his motes around the convention floor. As I watched his computer screen in his booth. I saw each mote moving in real time around the convention hall using only RSSI (relative signal strength information, which is used in google’s new location service) for each of the motes. Interestingly, the more motes he added to the system, the better the topology, and the more accurate the locational map became.

So, look for a variety of technologies to enable you to put your makeup on without paying attention to the road, but if the system is going depend on confirmation from other vehicle, you might want to avoid hands free in West Texas, or you might want to avoid West Texas all together (just joking).

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