Cars that talk to each other are coming soon, and could save thousands of lives.
“Panasonic’s Network Operations Center in Denver looks ripped straight from the pages of a Tom Clancy novel: Rows of computer workstations encircled by monitors, a wall of high-definition TVs, plush rolling chairs, call-center headsets, and urgently blinking LEDs, all soaked in surreal blue light.
But they’re not tracking Soviet spies in here. Instead, the kind of guys who wear shirts patterned like graph paper are watching four colorful dots creep their way around the grid of a city map, like sedated Pac-Man ghosts. Each dot represents a real car, some of the first in the world that will talk to each other, to traffic lights, to pedestrians, and yes, even to the government.
The industry calls it V2X communication — vehicle-to-anything. Today, there are four dots, but that number will become hundreds, thousands, and millions, as future cars roll off factory lines with V2X built right in.
After more than a decade of engineering challenges, industry infighting, and regulatory red tape, cars that talk to one another, and the world around them, are almost here. They’ll alert one another to road conditions, tell you when the traffic signal will change, and even warn you not to pull out of that blind intersection, because they can see the oncoming traffic you can’t.
Before they learn to drive themselves, cars are going to get a lot chattier. “