Europe’s Smart Highway Will Shepherd Cars From Rotterdam to Vienna
Seeing taillights flash up ahead, you slam on the brakes, thus sending the signal you’ve just received to the car behind, with a lag. That car relays the same information with a lag of its own, creating a monstrous traffic jam kilometers down the line.
That’s the sorry state of car-to-car communication today. Drivers must be totally alert; yet even so, they can’t help triggering perverse results. This problem will start to end this decade, as cars begin to communicate with one another in a way that allows each to see through the eyes of those that have gone before. The roads will be safer, traffic jams fewer, and cars more autonomous.
But because the early adopters won’t have other cars to talk to, many traffic specialists want to focus first on giving voice to the roads. In this scenario, smart roads—that is, intelligent transportation systems, or ITS—will provide a payoff from the start. Later, as talking cars proliferate, the vehicle itself will become the center of the conversation.