BBC News reports that scientists from the University have developed software that lets cars 'communicate' with each other on the road.
The report points out that although similar technology has been used before the team said that cars would be able to 'know' what happened kilometers ahead. A computer simulation to test the software was done and it was seen that it could reduce motorway pile-ups by 40 percent. These results were delineated in a paper published in the journal Computer Networks.
Road tests of the software will be carried out in August 2011 on the streets and motorways of Los Angeles in conjunction with car maker Toyota.
The system will be using telematics (unity of telecommunications and informatics among cars), and combine it with the Internet. The Italian researchers aim to connect all cars on the road through Wi-Fi - either by installing a Wi-Fi-enabled sensor into a car, or by downloading software on to a smartphone.
Team leader Professor Marco Roccetti believes that the new technology could impact society significantly in terms of human lives and societal costs, he told BBC News.
He said that the system developed by the team was different from conventional telematics that uses a radar-type mechanism to detect an obstacle on the road in front of a car, and then brakes to avoid a crash.
However, this software enables cars to 'communicate' with each other using acceleration sensors built into cars that trigger an alarm message in abnormal conditions such as when a vehicle is involved in a crash.
When a car in an accident experiences a sudden change in acceleration, this change would be captured by the sensor and alert cars and drivers approaching the same spot.
This alarm could spread down the chain of vehicles on the street so that they could safely stop a long way before they reach the accident scene and avoid piling up on that particular route.
By letting cars 'talk' to each other, we can see what happens kilometres ahead - whereas current technology, instead, allows cars to perceive an obstacle only when it is physically in front of them, said team member Professor Gustavo Marfia.
Professor Roccetti added that they had developed an, optimal algorithm for multi-lane, strip-shaped portions of roads - such as highways.
One of the disadvantages of the system was that a data jam could occur if car involved in an accident transmitted the message to every single vehicles behind it which in turn transmitted it to other vehicles following them.
To counteract this problem, the team decided on a scheme that sent messages to only those cars that were able to transmit it as far as possible.
All cars are constantly swapping data and updating information constantly so that the system does not stagnate.
The 'talking' cars project is expected to be successful and make streets and highway routes much safer.