The National Center for Atmospheric Research s overseeing development of a prototype system, known as the "Vehicle Data Translator," to provide drivers with up-to-the-minute information on road and atmosphere conditions.
The system will use wireless technology to use cars as mobile weather stations, collecting and relaying detailed information about local weather and road conditions and thereby helping prevent other drivers from being surprised by such hazards as black ice, fog, and hail.
The idea is to eventually have data sampling of all cars on the road: "It turns out that your vehicle is collecting a ton of interesting information," says Sheldon Drobot, principal investigator of the research project, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. "Cars have all these computers in them nowadays, and they're incredibly complicated. They know all kinds of stuff that's going on, but they don't really share that information."
And with 250 million cars on the road, that's a lot of data that could be shared, he says.