Japanese scientists' new innovation deals with the horns of parked cars being activated in case of a natural disaster. The technology will soon be patented by them.
The technology is based on the eCall emergency system, which new cars are going to be equipped with as from September 2010.
The eCall system was developed at the initiative of the EU Commission to help reduce the number of road traffic fatalities.
It consists of a GPS sensor and a mobile phone component, which is activated only in case of an accident and which can transmit data to an emergency call center.
The INT researchers found out that this infrastructure can also be used to warn the population.
Once the cars are equipped with a radio receiver, their horns can be triggered in case of disaster. The receiver can be activated only by civil protection agencies.
These might send the following signal to the vehicles that are equipped with the receiver and that are currently within the boundaries of the following GPS coordinates: If the engine is off, start sounding the horn!
The INT suggestion has a clear statistical advantage: a mere 14 percent of the registered vehicles are already sufficient to provide extensive alarming.
If all new vehicles are equipped with eCall from the end of next year, the warning system may be ready for use after an establishment phase of 2 to 4 years, predicts Guido Huppertz from the INT's Technology Analyses and Forecasts (TAV) department.
The new system is meant to complement rather than replace the other options.
"The effort is restricted to the integration of a small electronic module into new vehicles, Huppertz said.