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Are “talking” cars coming to Australia?

27/05/2018 by Kirsten Brent in Technology

The era of “talking” vehicles is almost upon us with Toyota announcing that it will start fitting its cars for the American market with sensor-based systems to communicate with other vehicles and road infrastructure from 2021.

The technology is known as Dedicated Short-Range Communications Systems (DSRC) and according to Toyota it promises safer roads, fuel savings and better traffic flows. It’s similar to Bluetooth and allows vehicles to exchange information including speed, location and acceleration several times per second.

Avoiding collisions

According to Toyota’s US arm, the information can be used by other DSRC-enabled vehicles and devices to help drivers prevent collisions. It can also provide helpful real-time information to drivers, such as potential hazards, slow or stopped vehicles ahead, or signals, signs, and road conditions that may be hard to see.

The technology was pioneered in Japan in 2015 and is being introduced in the US after collaboration between government and the vehicle industry. The Americans need it. In 2016 some 37,461 people died on American roads.

Toyota is striking a very upbeat note about the system’s life-saving potential.

"By allowing vehicles' intelligent systems to collaborate more broadly and effectively through DSRC technology, we can help drivers realize a future with zero fatalities from crashes, better traffic flow and less congestion," said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor North America (TMNA).

Frequency problems

It's undoubtedly impressive technology but it probably won’t be heading to Australia anytime soon. There are problems with the allocation of radio frequencies the system relies on. While the Australian government has reserved most of the frequencies for the system to operate, Telstra owns the rights for part of them.

It’s a problem that’s already affected Mercedes Benz in Australia. To meet Australia’s legal requirements Mercedes cars fitted with radar-based cruise control have a feature which automatically switches the system off whenever it’s near deep space radio telescopes, such as the one at Parkes in NSW, because it can interfere with them.

All of which is a bit ironic, because Australian company Cohda is something of a world leader in developing DSRC systems. It recently announced a system that accurately positions vehicles without using GPS. That’s vital when GPS disappears in “urban canyons” of high rise city buildings or undercover car parks.

It’s almost inevitable that the frequency problem will eventually be sorted and that we’ll see this sort of sophisticated technology in Australian cars sooner or later.

All of which emphasises the speed of technological advancement in modern cars and the value of keeping up with the latest safety features. One of the best ways to do that, of course, is with a Fleetcare Novated Lease that will keep you up-to-date with the latest models with the safety features you and your family deserve.

If you’d like to know more about how a novated lease can keep your cars up-to-date with the latest safety features contact Fleetcare today on 134 333.

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