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Brussels starts to pave the road ahead for connected cars

European Commission sets out a strategy to make internet-connected vehicles widespread by 2019. The aim is to improve road safety and fuel efficiency

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The European Commission is putting pressure on auto manufacturers to integrate a range of communications technologies in new car models, to help mitigate crashes and reduce congestion on roads and motorways, in its strategy on internet-connect vehicles published on Wednesday.

By 2019, all cars should be able to exchange data with manufacturers, traffic controllers, emergency services and other cars on the road, the strategy says.

Drivers should get warnings about weather conditions, traffic ahead, road works and approaching emergency vehicles. Applications to come later would give information on the nearest fuel stations, guidance on available parking and city navigation advice.

Some cars already have the functions the Commission lists, but the idea is to press manufacturers to make them standard in all models, and not just high-end vehicles.

The total annual cost of such new technology will be billions of euros, but there will be savings from better fuel efficiency, with technologies that guide drivers on how to get the most out of a tank of fuel and the best way to apply the brakes.

In addition, the Commission views connected cars as one potential cure for the EU’s stagnating road safety record. Last year, 26,000 people were killed by cars in Europe, a slight increase on the previous year.

To help the development of connected car functions and autonomous vehicles, the EU executive is pumping money through its Horizon 2020 science programme, with €100 million in reserve for automation research.

To protect cars from the potentially dangerous threat of hackers, which could break into applications and even take over the wheel of a car, the Commission plans a new certification scheme, which will lay down a common security standard. 

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Related subjects: Self-driving vehicles, Connected cars