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Mike Creger, Published September 03 2013

UMD students, professor on cutting edge of car safety

DULUTH, Minn. – When cars talk to each other, everyone on the road is safer.

That’s the summation of University of Minnesota Duluth professor Imran Hayee after five years of hard work with his electrical engineering graduate students to create technology that will better inform drivers as they travel in congested areas.

They have developed programming that will give drivers instant information on what’s ahead of them.

An example would be a warning flashing on a car’s screen saying there is a snowplow ahead. The snowplow would relay that signal to vehicles behind them, and those vehicles would keep the message going down the road.

Last month, the National Transportation Safety Board announced that it is recommending to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that it develop performance standards for the “connected vehicle” technology and require that it be installed in new vehicles. It’s a sign that groups like the one at UMD have pushed technology to where a system seems feasible.

“We wanted to help facilitate that decision,” Hayee said. “It’s a great leap forward.”

He said his group’s technology is on the forefront in the push for more information for drivers, and it could be integrated into new vehicle dashboard systems in four to five years.

Federal experts estimate that the technology could work to prevent 80 percent of all unimpaired accidents in the country, calling it a safety leap far beyond the advent of seat belts or airbags.