It might seem like something out of ‘Terminator: Rise of the Machines,’ but in an effort to make the roads safer as well as more efficient to travel upon, NXP Semiconductors NV (NASDAQ:NXPI) is imagining a future where cars communicate not only with one another but with the road and environment around them.
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Through a consortium of companies including car manufacturers like Honda Motor Co Ltd (NYSE:HMC) and Audi, along with technology partners such as mapmaker TomTom, NEC, and TE Connectivity Ltd. (NYSE:TEL), as well as a number of universities and research institutes, NXP is looking to implement and deploy a wireless communications network between cars and the highway infrastructure around them.
For example, the technology would allow cars to communicate with one another and could essentially “see” around corners to detect danger even before it was visible to the driver, or to warn of traffic jams or approaching emergency vehicles.
Just last week the chip maker perhaps best known for its leadership in near-field communications signed a memorandum of understanding with one of the consortium partners, Cohda Wireless, to create a cooperative intelligent transportation system in Europe. In January, NXP and Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) announced a significant investment in Cohda Wireless to develop a similar system in the U.S. The Transportation Department has been running a test in Michigan since last August testing vehicle awareness in more than 2,800 cars.
The Internet of Things
According to Cisco, more devices, appliances, and even cattle are connecting to the Internet than people (farmers can track the health of their “networked cows” via technology developed by Dutch start-up Sparked). In fact, the Internet became an “Internet of Things” as far back as 2008 when there were more devices connected than people on the Earth. Cisco predicts some 25 billion devices will be connected by 2015, and 50 billion by 2020.
NXP and Cohda have developed a wireless communication system that will complement Cisco’s “Internet of Things” infrastructure using Cohda’s 802.11p technology. That’s an amendment to the Wi-Fi LAN standard but designed specifically for automotive applications.