Can talking roads end car accidents?

V2X tech sounds like sci-fi — but several states are already trying it out.

August 13, 2020

I still think about a moment from childhood when my dad’s car skidded across a patch of black ice. For a few seconds, we felt weightless.

Everyone knows that panic — a sharp bend in the road, a car ahead suddenly braking. Accidents waiting to happen.

A new technology called vehicle-to-everything, or V2X, could seriously curb them. The feds say it may be able to stop (or soften) 80% of wrecks where the driver isn’t impaired.

The road, it’s aliiiiiive 

V2X is like a DM between your car and the road, using fancy radios. Ten times per second, your car relays data about your speed or tire traction.

If something weird happens, the road will know. And it can warn other drivers: Ice ahead, fools.

We’re still years out from a full-scale version — but Utah, Georgia, and Michigan are already paving some roads with V2X sensors. And Volkswagen and General Motors are wiring their new rides with V2X.

Some other sweet things V2X can do

A ranking, from socially useful to “I can’t wait for the YouTube videos of this”:

  • Send warnings when cars ahead slow down.
  • Collect tolls, to open up traffic-choked roads.
  • Guide hired rides to the exact alley corner where you’re standing.
  • Flip traffic lights from yellow/red to green (for emergency vehicles, not your joyride).

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