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August 21, 2012 11:00 AM, EDT

DOT Helps Launch Road Test of Crash-Avoidance Technology System

The Department of Transportation Tuesday helped launch a road test of new technology system designed to help avoid crashes.

Conducted by University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, the Safety Pilot system is the first-of-its-kind test connected vehicle technology in the real world, DOT said.

“Today is a big moment for automotive safety,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. “This cutting-edge technology offers real promise for improving both the safety and efficiency of our roads.”

LaHood joined elected officials and industry and community leaders at the Michigan campus to launch the second phase of the program, under which cars, trucks and buses — most of which have been supplied by volunteer participants — are equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication devices to gather data about system operability and the effectiveness at reducing crashes.

DOT awarded the university $14.9 million to conduct the test, and the school equipped more than 73 lane miles of roadway as well as 2,850 vehicles, including cars, buses and commercial trucks, Bloomberg reported.

Nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and buses equipped with Wi-Fi technology connected to vehicles and infrastructure to “talk” to each other in real time to help avoid crashes and improve traffic flow.

The vehicles will begin traversing the streets of Ann Arbor, Mich., Tuesday as part of a year-long safety pilot program.

The deployment is the second phase of Safety Pilot, a research initiative managed by DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Research and Innovative Technologies Administration, under RITA’s Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office.