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Washington auto show: Ford develops ‘intelligent cars'

Thu, 27 Jan 2011

There are plenty of smartphones, and now Ford is pitching the idea of “intelligent cars” that can communicate with each other to avoid accidents.

Ford is investing heavily into the technology and will launch a fleet of prototypes this spring, the company said on Thursday at the Washington auto show. The idea is to use wireless signals on a secured channel to allow cars to communicate with each other. Ford says intelligent-vehicle technology could help in 81 percent of crashes not related to drunk driving.

The company also is planning a 20-person internal task force to concentrate on the technology. Intelligent vehicles could be on the road later in the decade if the science advances. It would allow drivers to be alerted if there are crash risks when changing lanes or approaching out-of-control motorists.

Ideally, there would be a common language for cars, so Fords could communicate with Chevrolets, Toyotas and other cars, to make the technology effective in real-life situations. The Department of Transportation is heading research by several automakers to develop standards by 2013.

Privacy issues also are a concern, but Ford chief technical officer Paul Mascarenas says intelligent cars of the future should transmit less user information than today's smartphones.

By Greg Migliore