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BMW, Ford, Mercedes and Volvo to share live road safety data car-to-car

Pilot project will see cars share data warning of slippery roads and vehicles with active hazard warning lights

Volvo, Mercedes, BMW and Ford have joined forces for a European safety project that will see cars from the four companies share anonymised road safety data with each other.

The initiative will see cars send alerts to a cloud database that is accessible to all members of the scheme, enabling safety data collected by a BMW, for example, to be accessed by a following Mercedes.

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In practice, this means that when a driver activates their hazard warning lights, or makes an emergency call via eCall, this information will be sent anonymously to a cloud server before being relayed to the infotainment systems of other vehicles in the vicinity. 

BMW will be the first company to make its safety data freely accessible, confirming that customer's cars will ask them if they want to share anonymous data from 1 July, though BMW and MINI owners will be able to opt out of the scheme at any time. The firm says its cars will be able to send out warnings for broken-down vehicles, poor visibility and wet or icy roads and that “going forward, every BMW and MINI driver who provides anonymised data will be helping improve overall road safety.”

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Mercedes will also be taking part in the project, though its parent company, Daimler, says "will only use the test fleet for the project - no customer data will be collected."

Volvo’s Hazard Light Alert system, meanwhile, will send out alerts when a driver activates their hazard warning lights, while the firm’s Slippery Road Alert system will generate warnings when low-grip conditions are detected. Earlier in the year, Volvo announced all its cars would share safety information with each other from 2020, with the firm stressing at the time that it was keen for other carmakers to follow suit.

As well as four key carmakers, the scheme will see navigation firms HERE and TomTom help gather, anonymise and transmit the data to other road users. The project begin in the Netherlands before branching out to Germany, Spain, Finland, Sweden and Luxembourg.

Christoph Grote, senior vice-president of electronics at BMW, said “we are proud to blaze this trail with our partners. When it comes to road safety, there are no competitors, only partners.” Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson echoed those sentiments, saying: “We think this type of anonymised data sharing should be done for free, for the greater good and to the wider benefit of society. It saves lives, time and taxpayer money”.

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