`Clever cars to make future driving safer`

Imagine a car that can ring up the emergency services itself in case of a crash.

Updated: Sep 19, 2010, 19:46 PM IST

London: Imagine a car that can ring up the
emergency services itself in case of a crash. Scientists hope
this could soon be a reality.

Sensors embedded in future vehicles could also let
emergency services work out the severity of the crash and how
many people were involved, they said.

The predictions came at a conference considering the
changes ushered in by the spread of small, smart processors.

The growing number of on-board computers, they said,
could also spell big changes for the way people drive, BBC
News reported.

"The car is probably going to be the most
compute-intensive possession that we will have," said Steve
Wainwright, European manager at Freescale Semiconductor which
makes many of the chips inside car control systems.

According to him, average cars have already 25 to 30
electronic control units onboard and high-end cars probably
carry up to 80.

These tiny computers are in charge of many car systems
such as stability control, power distribution, safety and many
others. Increasingly, they are helping to augment a person`s
driving skill and that trend would only continue as
technologies such as collision detection systems and radar
become more commonplace, he said.

"All of us who feel we are better drivers now than we
were 10 years ago, that`s probably because we are getting more
help then we realise," Wainwright was quoted as saying at the
Future World Sympoisum organised by National Microelectronics
Institute, UK.

Paul Burnley, an analyst from automotive market research
firm SBD, said cars in the future would be among the first to
react after a crash.

They might send data about their location and the number
of occupants in a car to get the emergency services responding
much more quickly.

"More advanced systems will be capable of sending data
from distributed sensors in the car to the emergency
services," he said.

Clever in-car systems would be essential as the world
moves from petrol-driven cars to hybrid and electric vehicles,
he said.

Wainwright believed that the growing unification of cars
and computers had the potential to make driving safer and
greener.

Already, he said, the US has set aside radio spectrum for
car-to-car communication systems suggesting that the future
will see more inter-vehicular chatter about road conditions.
Europe is also considering which radio frequency to use for
this communication.

PTI