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Warning, warning!


DaimlerChrysler has just completed testing its "Willwarn" wireless local danger warning system which detects hazards such as black ice or obstacles and radios the information to following vehicles.

Five vehicles in the test were equipped with Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) radio technology called "Car-2-X Communication".

The early warnings enabled drivers of the cars behind to prepare for the danger and adapt their speed in plenty of time.

Other inter-vehicle systems are also in the pipeline.

Audi and Honda introduced their vehicle-to-vehicle safety systems earlier this year.

The systems work by using GPS, radar, laser and radio to communicate with other road users such as motorcycles, trucks and even pedestrians to avoid collisions.

Manufacturers are working with each other and other information and electronics companies to establish compatible systems.

Already vehicle manufacturers in Europe, the US and Japan have agreed to develop a common standard for the relevant hardware and software, and are pursuing standard radio frequencies to assure the system works around the world.

The drawbacks for these systems are that they require all road users to have them fitted, or need roadside beacons to relay information, or a central service to consolidate and process the information.

Honda's third-generation advanced safety vehicle (ASV-3) system identifies pedestrians and intersections, reads road markings and street signs and prevents rear-end accidents by recognising a rapidly slowing vehicle in front.

Audi's futuristic Roadjet Concept vehicle uses the technology for avoiding crashes and making driving smoother.

The system can assess traffic light phases so drivers can drive at an average speed and avoid heavy stops and starts.

It also features a hazard signal when a vehicle has crashed, blocking the road, and will find empty spaces in car parks.