Ford Invests in Talking Cars

Ford Motor Company said Thursday it will become the first automaker to build and demonstrate vehicle prototypes that communicate with other vehicles. Using short-range communication, a technology similar to WiFi, vehicles will exchange information about possible hazards, such as imminent crash situations.

At the Washington Auto Show, Ford also said it will double its investment in intelligent vehicle technologies in 2011, although the automaker did not provide any figures for that investment.

How this technology might eventually play out in the federal fleet is unclear. On Monday, the Transportation Department launched a challenge to find ways for using wireless connectivity to improve road safety.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, intelligent vehicles potentially could prevent more than 4 million police-reported light vehicle crashes annually, or about 81 percent of all such crashes involving unimpaired drivers.