Volvo trial to see cars collaborate in the cloud

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Although we know the more connected cars of the future will have the ability to drive themselves and access all sorts of applications on their fancy new infotainment systems, one aspect of future automobiles that doesn’t get talked about quite so much is how they will share information. Even though we’re still a ways off automated vehicles letting each other know what they are up to, Volvo is set to trial a scheme whereby cars can tell each other when there’s bad road conditions or traffic jams up ahead, letting the – for now – in control driver take action to avoid them if necessary.

The new scheme will begin with a select 1,000 of Volvo’s safety orientated XC90 saloon cars in Sweden and Norway. The reason for the chosen region is that both countries are known for their severe weather, some of which can come on at a moment’s notice, so having a warning from the car a few miles ahead of you could make all the difference.

The system will work using the car’s built in sensors to detect any big atmospheric changes, as well as when any sharp acceleration or braking occurs, which could denote an accident of some kind. In those cases, that information is sent to Volvo’s own cloud network, whereby it is then disseminated to the other Volvo vehicles to let them know what’s going on up ahead.

weather

No word on whether local weather-men are worried though.

This is understandably just a very early phase test of the technology and is unlikely to see much use considering such a small number of vehicles will be used in two entire countries. However, Volvo plans to build off of this trial to create better and more accurate connected cars, which will be able to share all sorts of information. In the future, drivers and eventually the self-piloting systems in the cars will be able to find out all sorts of information about what’s going on a few miles down the road, simply by asking the car that’s there.

Avoiding traffic jams should become far easier as this sort of technology is implemented, as well as much faster warnings for weather effects.

“Imagine a world where road status data, collected by cars, is shared with other road users and with local authorities through a connected cloud: A world where the benefit of anonymised data-sharing supports convenience and life-saving services, while helping to contribute to a better society? Volvo Cars is working on realising such a future scenario,” said Klas Bendrik, vice president and group CIO at Volvo (via TechWeekEurope).

However Bendrik sees more than just cars connecting to the same virtual network. He also touched on the possibility of cities teaming up with car makers to create a collection of global sensors that can rely on each other’s measurements to give even more data to drivers. It could potentially allow for smarter traffic light scheduling based on how many cars are currently at the lights and how many will be arriving shortly. Similarly so, black ice or deep puddles could be illuminated by street lights in an entirely different colour.

Image source: globochem3x1minus1

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.