Automakers Join Together to Fund Research Toward Cars That Talk to Each Other

Sep 05, 2014 02:54 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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A number of companies, including several automakers, have joined together for a public-private research initiative designed to lay the groundwork for a system that wirelessly connects vehicles, the University of Michigan announced this week.

The university's Mobility Transformation Center will help develop and implement technology that allows vehicles to communicate with one another and surrounding infrastructure like stoplights in order to reduce traffic congestion and vehicle accidents.

The program includes increased use of technology to automate functions like cruise control and traveling in stop-and-go driving, according to the school.

The initiative was created to implement a working connected and automated car system by 2021 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where the university s based and testing the program.

Companies that will each commit $1 million over three years to establish the center include: General Motors Co, Ford Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp, Honda Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co.

The center could raise as much as $100 million through 2021 for the project, a spokesman said to Reuters.

Auto suppliers also taking part in the program includes: Delphi Automotive Plc, Denso Corp and Robert Bosch GmbH [ROBG.UL], as well telecommunications group Verizon Communications Inc, printer and copier maker Xerox Corp and insurer State Farm, the university said.

Back in 2012, officials from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the University of Michigan introduced a pilot program designed to equip nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and buses with wireless devices.

The devices are capable of tracking speed and location of other vehicles, change traffic lights to green, and alert drivers to congestion, according to Reuters.

The Mobility Transformation Center is set to expand the vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure program to 9,000 vehicles in Ann Arbor, according to the university. It is also working with the state to support a deployment of 20,000 vehicles in southeast Michigan.

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