According to estimates there are 800 million cars on the road today. By 2050 it will approach between 2 and 4 billion with 70% of those cars existing in cities. Needless to say, automakers — and city planners alike — are scrambling to develop new and more efficient ways to get around. One company, Ford, recently invited GP to get a glimpse into what they’re working on. They call it Ford Intelligent Vehicle Technology and like it or not, it’s part of the future.

Getting a glimpse into what could be the future can sometimes seem odd: having your car warn you about your glucose level; to the logical: using the ubiquitous Cloud to store information once trappped within the in-car computer; to the unnerving: using big brother-ish “green zones” that switch your car into EV-only mode while in a certain area (neighborhood, school zone, national parks) then switch back to the engine upon exiting. If it all sounds a bit too much like Minority Report then you’d be right.

But of everything we got to see, touch and experience, what seems most promising to us is the concept of “car-to-car” communication. Essentially, vehicles “speaking” to each other and using all that captured data to warn drivers of potential danger. Long before an impending collision the vehicle will sound beeps and/or lights to warn of what’s ahead (e.g., a stopped vehicle in a blind-curve situation).

Here’s how it works: using dedicated short-range communication on a secured channel regulated by the FCC as well as GPS and on-board diagnostics such as speed, steering angle, etc., the vehicle can broadcast and receive information in a complete 360 degree field. It knows when an accident is likely and warns both parties.

Working with other automakers and the U.S. Government as well as running their own test fleet in Detroit, Ford hopes this technology will be on the road in 5-10 years and reduce accidents by 81%, thus attempting to cut into the one week and four billion gallons of gas wasted in traffic jams each year. Sounds good to us. Last we checked, the 405 is miserable and only getting worse…

Photography by Bradley Hasemeyer