Technology

More vehicles means more traffic. The solution? Smarter cars

Equipping them with the technology to coordinate with each other is key
Vehicles slowly wind their way onto the Second Narrows Bridge from North Vancouver during early morning rush hour in December of 2003. Thousands of vehicles making the crossing daily.(CP PHOTO/Chuck Stoody)
Wanted: smarter cars
Chuck Stoody/CP

It’s not often that auto industry bigwigs say they’re worried about selling too many cars. But that’s what Bill Ford, chair of Ford Motor Co., did this week at a conference in Barcelona. Ford said that with 1.2 billion cars and trucks on the world’s roads and another 144 million expected over the next four years, the industry’s biggest long-term risk is congested highways and urban traffic jams. “If we do nothing, it will limit the number of vehicles we can sell,” he said. The solution? Use mobile communications technology to allow cars to coordinate with each other and with traffic planning systems. Ford envisions a day when computers will do most of the driving in traffic, squeezing cars onto busy roads without compromising safety. The trend is already under way. The Ford Focus, for instance, can be equipped with cameras that scan for street signs, while an infrared warning system helps avoid fender-benders.