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IntelliDrive: Transforming the Automobile

‘Intelligent Transportation Systems’ encompass a host of technologies and applications that, broadly speaking, aim “to integrate the ground transportation system into the knowledge economy.”  One system, potentially the most dramatic development in auto-mobility since the “horseless carriage” first rolled out of the garage, has come to be known as ‘intellidrive’, with the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) holding a service mark for words, letters and design related to IntelliDriveSM.
 

‘Intelligent Transportation Systems’ encompass a host of technologies and applications that, broadly speaking, aim “to integrate the ground transportation system into the knowledge economy.”  One system, potentially the most dramatic development in auto-mobility since the “horseless carriage” first rolled out of the garage, has come to be known as ‘intellidrive’, with the US Department of Transportation (USDOT) holding a service mark for words, letters and design related to IntelliDriveSM.
 
Originally called Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) by its early stage researchers and developers, the concept quickly progressed to encompass more and more potential technologies and capabilities. With the implementation stage approaching, it has been renamed ‘Intellidrive’ as a “way of speaking… that resonates with a broader group of potential partners and consumers.”
 
IntelliDrive has a website— www.intellidriveusa.org sponsored by USDOT and devoted to defining and describing its latest state of development and touting its benefits.  The website describes IntelliDrive as a suite of technologies and applications using wireless connectivity between vehicles, between vehicles and the roadway, and within vehicles through devices such as consumer electronics “to achieve transformational safety, mobility and environmental improvements.”
 
While the wireless connectivity aspect is a relatively straightforward adaptation of mature technology, the universal application of this connectivity—between vehicles and with the roadway across all vehicle makes and across all jurisdictions—is more complex.  And universal application, being a necessary pre-condition, also requires cost-effectiveness.  Researchers, auto manufacturers, and federal and state transportation officials are working to develop standards and find a sustainable business model that supports putting the technology in all vehicles and all roadways.
 
The transformational impact of IntelliDrive cannot be overstated.  Mature IntelliDrive systems have the potential to eliminate crashes by warning all road users including drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians of safety hazards in time for them to avoid them.  If their response time is not fast enough, IntelliDrive systems may be able to assume control of the vehicle or vehicles otherwise headed on a collision course to initiate avoidance actions.  The website indicates that active research and testing is underway on applications to provide a range of warnings including warnings of forward collisions, intersection collisions, unsafe lane changes, unsafe passing situations, and loss of control.
 
The connection between vehicles and the roadway offers many possibilities for improving mobility by providing advance warning of traffic jams, construction sites, unsafe road conditions—any impediment that can be avoided, and advice regarding alternate routes to ensure the smoothest possible flow of traffic. This functionality is also dependent on real time data transfer between vehicles and centralized transportation system managers. Maximized mobility for all road users is also a collateral environmental benefit of IntelliDrive.  Congestion avoidance reduces fuel use and emissions. IntelliDrive applications may also evolve to help drivers maintain their vehicles for maximum energy efficiency.
 
The extent of the potential benefits offered by IntelliDrive has been likened to the changes brought about by the computer and Internet revolutions.  As the IntelliDrive website puts it: “IntelliDrive provides a starting point …Today we can see only the tip of the iceberg.”

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