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Australian-developed vehicle accident prevention technology to hit world stage

Adam Bender | Feb. 13, 2013
Cohda Wireless CEO Paul Gray estimates that by 2017, Australian cars may be able to communicate

An Australian-developed wireless car-to-car communication system designed to prevent car accidents could soon appear in vehicles around the world and possibly new prototypes that don't require drivers.

The technology, which was developed by Adelaide firm Cohda Wireless, gives drivers a 360-degree awareness of surrounding vehicles by broadcasting information about a car's current position, speed and direction at a rate of ten times per second.

"Imagine you're driving down the road to an intersection and there's another car approaching on the side road," said Cohda Wireless CEO Paul Gray. "You have the right of way, but the other car is travelling too fast and not going to stop in time."

If both cars are equipped with the Cohda technology, each driver will receive a warning and can take steps to avoid an accident, he said. Unlike other systems that rely on maintaining line of sight with the other vehicle, Cohda's technology works around corners where a building may block a driver's view of another vehicle, he said.

Gray predicted the technology could appear in Australian vehicles from 2017. Drivers in US and Europe will likely see the technology in 2015.

"Work has commenced in Australia and there have been a number of trials in Australia," he said. The country is "maybe around two years behind what's happening in the US and Europe."

Cohda Wireless is based in Adelaide was founded in 2006 out of the University of South Australia. It will soon open sales offices in the US and Europe as its technology moves closer to deployment, Gray said.

No car makers have put the system into production. However, since mid-2011, there have been large trials of the car-to-car communications technology around the world, Gray said. He estimated that Cohda has its technology in about 50 per cent of the cars participating in the trials.

To avoid a collision, car-to-car communications technology must be present in both cars involved. However, Gray cited an estimate from the US Department of Transportation that there will be measurable impact on the number of automotive accidents once the penetration rate reaches 10 per cent of vehicles on the road, said Gray.

Gray predicted it will take about three years to reach that first 10 per cent. The long-term goal is to sell the devices to car manufacturers for about $100 each to encourage adoption, he said. After-market versions may cost two or three times that, he said.

"It needs to go into all vehicles to be effective, and hence it needs to be low cost," Gray said.

"It's not just going to go into BMWs ... Your BMW wouldn't crash into BMWs, but that's probably not a common occurrence."


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