Various projects have been undertaken to make automated vehicles smarter. For instance, I wrote last year about the German UR:BAN project that aimed to make urban traffic safer and more efficient.
This involves a heightened level of sensing the environment that will provide an inevitable stepping stone towards full automation. Another nice example is the Vehicular Ad-Hoc Network (VANET) being run by Middlesex University.
VANET hopes to help bring about the next wave of driverless cars, autonomous trains and always locatable planes. The VANETs aim to integrate transport and communication infrastructures via a range of communication devices known as Roadside Units (RSUs).
These connect to your car via an Onboard Unit (OBU), and the subsequent rapid flow of information between these things helps to prevent collisions, notify authorities of accidents and so on.
These networks will also support the delivery of infotainment type information to our cars, whether this is live news and traffic updates, video games and so on.
The university are hoping to support innovation in this area through the creation of the Middlesex VANET Research Testbed, which is the first of its kind in the UK.
The group are actively looking for people to participate in trials, and are keen to install OBUs in vehicles for a period of time as you drive around the area, with the aim being to gain an understanding of the traffic in that part of town. The group have also developed OBUs for cyclists and pedestrians.