Researchers at the University of California, Irvine believe that peer-to-peer style information sharing could be used to improve road conditions for drivers. Using local-area wireless technology, vehicles could form an ad hoc network to exchange information about traffic conditions, accidents, and other incidents involving the roadways. This traveler-centric, zero-infrastructure network would share traffic information based on the same concept that file sharers on the Internet use to exchange music and video files. The researchers recently tested a prototype of the system, called Autonet, which is based on 802.11b wireless technology. Autonet features a graphical in-vehicle computer client that continuously monitors other nearby clients on the wireless network and shares information about local road conditions. The researchers say that Autonet can record about 3,500 traffic incidents for two vehicles passing each other at highway speeds. Autonet also can have wireless clients other than vehicles.
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