The networked car

About as near as I ever get to ‘networked’ is switching on my mobile phone.

Social networks? I tend to leave Facebook to others, to be honest.

But one network I’m quite keen to understand more about is ‘networked driving’.

Now this might sound like you can give up on looking at the road ahead and just peer into your smart phone’s Facebook app. But no, this is not for you directly, but instead for cars to network. To talk to each other. To engage in conversation.

OK, I agree, it might sound daft but it’s a sort of automotive ‘chattering classes’ if you will. So while you get on with the driving, cars in close proximity ‘talk’ to each other.

This car chat may have some significant benefits, particularly to your pocket.

Engineering company Bosch is working on what it calls ‘intersection assistants’ that allow cars to exchange sets of data.

Bosch is working on what is calls ‘intersection assistants’ that allow cars to exchange sets of data.

The result, is says, will allow ‘automated driving’. This in turn might use a car’s stop/start fuel saving function working in tandem with the car’s satnav system to engage a ‘coasting’ mode when safe to do so.

The upshot would be a fuel saving of some 15 per cent – which would also lower the car’s CO2 emissions – and that means reduced benefit in kind exposure for a lower company car tax bill. Wins all round then.

But I’m thinking there might be fuel savings beyond that.

For example, if you are driving up the motorway, and cars ahead of you were able to relay ‘tyres on the tarmac’ realtime information to the cars behind, then that opens up a whole new set of savings.

Is there an accident? The cars involved have already notified the emergency services automatically – and the cars following the accident have notified cars ‘downstream’ of the delay.

So as you are driving towards the incident, cars ahead have ‘talked’ to your car, automatically rerouting you around the hold up.

You can begin to understand the benefits of the car network to you as a driver and for fleet managers in terms of reduced running costs thanks to greater data information exchange.

But there is one aspect the experts back at Bosch may not have considered:  with so many people personalising their cars with names, and so much car chat going on, what happens when cars find love over the network?

I’d better go and have a heart to heart with my car outside!