When cars talk, this is what they'll tell each other

Your next car may even know the destination of other vehicles around it on the highway

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"I could [upload] my route to the cloud and, for example, let cars around me know I'll be on Rte. 101 for the next 10 minutes, and then I'm going to exit," Healey said. "You're augmenting on-road perception."

With a large enough cloud infrastructure, driver history could also be added, allowing cars to adjust their distance based on the safety record of other drivers. For example, a vehicle might identify a problem driver and simply monitor his or her car more carefully than other vehicles that have not been flagged.

"The car could passively let the driver know that red Jetta is someone you may want to watch more closely," she said.

Healey said the technology to create an automobile cloud network is readily available, but it's the reliability and scalability that remains unproven.

One obvious issue is bandwidth. Wireless communications vary by region, so while the system might work well in an urban setting, in a more suburban or rural area radio communications might be too slow to transmit accurate data.

Another problem is speed and traffic congestion.

"So if you're driving at 85mph, there is a physical problem of transmitting radio packets fast enough to exceed your speed such that other people can get it and react to it in time," she said. "So you'd have to start publishing a plan to go 85mph in my lane up Rte. 101. So I want to announce to cars 10 miles ahead of me that I'm doing that."

Of course, drivers may not want to publicize their plans to exceed the speed limit. "Law enforcement doesn't tend to like 85mph lane splitters," Healey said.

In additiion, the more vehicle there are, the more complicated the data exchange on an ad hoc network, Healey admitted.

"I can show you a Taiwan intersection with 100 cars coming into it. That's a problem," she said. "We're doing it for three cars, but can we do it for 100? [If] you can do this in a Taiwan intersection with four lanes and scooters coming across ... then you have a real situation."

Cloud tracking
In highly dense traffic areas, data is uploaded to a cloud where vehicles are tracked remotely and can share data between each other. (Image: National Taiwan University).

This article, When cars talk, this is what they'll tell each other, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at  @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is lmearian@computerworld.com.

See more by Lucas Mearian on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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