What if cars had brake lights that other cars could sense even if their drivers couldn’t actually see them? Ford is testing just such a technology: an in-vehicle wireless radio that alerts nearby vehicles when your car is braking, even if those cars are far down the road or around corners.
Ford has been testing its electronic brake light in Germany in experimental S-MAX vehicles, but the concept is really part of a larger vehicle-to-vehicle communications effort that Ford and other global automakers have been pursuing for years. The idea isn’t to create individual smart instruments or smart parts for cars, but to connect every vehicle on the road into a massive automotive network. Each car itself would be an individual actor, but they would also become aware of the actions and intentions of the vehicles around them.
In such a network, drivers would no longer be dependent solely on their senses to react to road and traffic conditions. An electronic brake light is the most obvious use case for such a system. Every driver has experienced the frightful scenario of careening around a bend in the road only to see stopped cars backed up on the highway. Your eyes and feet can only act so fast, but a dashboard light warning you of a pile up just out of sight could be a life saver.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock user Gravicapa