WASHINGTON -- Automakers are adopting a common language on connected cars, vehicles that communicate with one another to help avert crashes, but they are also determined to put their individual stamps on the driving experience.
At a demonstration in late June in a stadium parking lot east of the U.S. Capitol, eight of the world's largest automakers -- Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen -- showed prototypes of cars that communicate using "dedicated short-range communications," or DSRC.
DSRC, essentially a wi-fi frequency for vehicles only, allows cars to exchange information and warn of potential hazards in ways that sensors and cameras cannot.
But while the technology allows cars to communicate across a common platform, the prototypes shown here choose several ways of relaying information to drivers, such as beeps and buzzes, flashing lights and voice warnings.
The brightest, loudest alerts came from Mercedes, which outfitted a C-class sedan with LED light strips embedded in the A-pillars and the dashboard.
The lights glow amber at the first sign of danger, such as when a car is approaching from behind and you have activated the turn signal. In a more pressing situation, the color changes to red and the car makes a beeping sound.
"It's a little too bright at night," said a professional driver who guided the car through a course of dangerous driving situations to set off its various alarms. "But it certainly does give you the warning, if you're getting a little sleepy."
Ford Motor Co. chose to use tactile feedback in its Taurus prototype, rumbling the seat to warn the driver of a potential collision. And a Cadillac prototype used a woman's voice to deliver some of its warning messages, such as "hard braking ahead."