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Consumer Reports to study connected-vehicle technology

By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times –

LOS ANGELES — Consumer Reports has sent its editors to Silicon Valley and to a special Ford proving ground in Dearborn, Mich., to look at how cars might talk to one another in transit and improve safety.

Connected-vehicle technology is gaining currency in the auto industry and among safety analysts. The magazine likes what it sees in this new technology, which enables vehicles to talk to one another and to road infrastructure such as traffic lights.

Such an advance is seen as having great potential in dangerous scenarios, such as a car approaching an intersection with a green traffic light ahead just as a car on the cross street is about to run a red light.

“In a typical car, you would enter the intersection and most likely be slammed in the side by the other vehicle, which could seriously injure or even kill you. But in this car, a prominent red warning light flashes on the dash and an alarm blares, giving you time to hit the brakes before entering the danger zone,” Consumer Reports said. It plans to feature the technology in its annual auto issue, to be published Feb. 28.

The magazine says that implementing V2X, or connected-vehicle, technology on a mass scale is years away. It must also overcome concerns about privacy and cyber-security, but even so, it’s likely to be adopted, and that should improve road safety.

“These systems are being aggressively developed because they could be the next big safety breakthrough,” said Rik Paul, Consumer Reports’ automotive editor. “But adequate oversight of how the information is used is essential to ensure the privacy of drivers and to prevent abuse.”

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