ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Cars that communicate with each other to avoid crashes or traffic jams will save lives, but the cost of the systems will determine consumers' acceptance, the U.S. transportation secretary said last week.
"These are definitely safer vehicles. At what cost though?" Ray LaHood told reporters at a connected-vehicle conference here. "Safety has a cost, and we're going to have to make that judgment."
LaHood declined to estimate what the cost of technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other and surrounding infrastructure would need to be to attract wide adoption by consumers.
"It will be up to car manufacturers to help us figure out what the cost of all this is going to be," LaHood, who has announced plans to leave the Cabinet, said at a University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute conference.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the University of Michigan fitted almost 3,000 cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles with wireless devices that track other vehicles' speed and location and alert drivers to congestion.
Results from the study will help the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decide whether some of the technology should be mandatory. A decision on such a rule will not be made until after testing is completed in August, officials have said.
Vehicles in the test can communicate with roadside devices in 29 areas in Ann Arbor. If conditions are safe, the vehicles can change the traffic light to green or let a driver know if a light is about to change.
LaHood's chosen successor is Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., whom President Obama nominated on April 29.