The UA’s Larry Head has led the development of infrastructure for vehicle-to-vehicle communication, which is expected to be on U.S. roads in about six years.
Photo: Bob Demers/UANews

Self-driving cars are already being tested, but their full potential won’t be realized until cars also learn how to communicate with each other and surrounding traffic control devices.

So-called “talking cars” aren’t just a drawing-board thing. So-called vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology uses a shortwave portion of the radio spectrum made available almost 20 years ago by the Federal Communications Commission.

Larry Head, a pioneer in the drive to perfect V2V technology, will discuss his work in a 3:30 p.m. lecture on Thursday (June 28) in the Arizona Senior Academy’s Great Room.

Head,  a University of Arizona professor who is also acting dean of the UA College of Engineering, believes V2V technology is as important today as the introduction of seat belts was in the 1950s. “We have technology that really can save lives, reduce crashes and reduce property-damage costs,” he says. “It’s the most exciting groundswell I’ve seen in transportation in 30 years.”

While consumer interest has fixated on self-driving (autonomous) vehicles, the complementary technology of V2V has flown mostly under the radar. However, both are integral to the vehicular ecosystem that will radically transform urban life in the next few decades.

Why does this matter? There are more than 40,000 reasons. The National Safety Council estimates there were that many motor vehicle deaths in 2017 in the U.S. — the second successive year the total has been so high. Such levels had not been seen since 2007.

Head is a professor of systems and industrial engineering and director of the UA’s Transportation Research Institute. He has over 25 years of research and development experience in adaptive traffic signal control and traffic management. He is the principal investigator for the Multi Modal Intelligent Traffic Signal System Pooled Fund Project that is tasked with developing an intelligent traffic signal control system in a V2V environment.

Written by Mike Maharry, Academy Village Volunteer


After Self-Driving, Cars Must Learn to ‘Talk’: June 2018