Cadillac sedans just got a major upgrade that could keep everyone on the road safer, using technology found in everyone’s smartphone. Every single new Cadillac CTS performance sedan is going to come with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology, the car maker announced on Thursday. Starting with 2017 interim models currently in production, the system will use a combination of GPS and dedicated short-range communication to alert nearby vehicles and their drivers.
“We’re not dependent on anyone else, but as the technology moves forward, as we gain additional learnings, we’re in a prime position to work with other OEMs or regulators,” a Cadillac spokesperson tells Inverse. “Cadillac CTSs can only talk to other CTSs at this point. But we welcome anyone else who wants to work with us.”
The system gives a hint at what’s to come when autonomous cars start to rule the road. Companies like AT&T and Nokia are exploring 5G cellular networks, designed to help support cars sharing collision data. The network is necessary because it allows companies to prioritize navigation data, so information from a car’s crash sensors is transmitted faster than a child’s Netflix stream in the backseat.
It has a slightly different focus, but V2V shows why these communications will be important. Cars will communicate between each other locally over the 5.9 GHz spectrum, rather than transmitting data over the internet. This means it will only speak to cars nearby, but also means it can work when there’s no cellular coverage.
Also, unlike autonomous cars where the computer will have to act based on complex data, V2V flashes a simple warning at the driver. It’s still up to them to react. Example messages include a warning that someone has their hazard lights on ahead, or that another car’s traction control suggests there’s a slippery road ahead. The system can handle 1,000 messages per second transmitted from around 980 feet away.
“From the introduction of air bags, to the debut of OnStar, Cadillac continues its heritage of pioneering safety and connectivity advances,” said Richard Brekus, Cadillac global director of product strategy in a statement. “V2V essentially enables the car to sense around corners. Connecting vehicles through V2V holds tremendous potential, as this technology enables the car to acquire and analyze information outside the bounds of the driver’s field of vision. As an early mover, we look forward to seeing its benefit multiply as more V2V-equipped vehicles hit the road.”
It’s early days, but the improved reaction times that come from V2V systems could make the case for why strengthened cellular networks are vital for the development of autonomous vehicles.
Updated 3/9 with comments from spokesperson.