Ford is working with automakers and safety leaders globally on a standardised platform for advanced wireless systems that can allow vehicles to “talk” to each other – based on a common communication standard – to reduce crashes and congestion.

Intelligent vehicles potentially could help in preventing 81% of all police-reported light-vehicle target crashes involving unimpaired drivers, according to a US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report.

The company says that global vehicle manufacturers need harmonised standards while the technology is being researched and developed, or the industry could end up with a variety of standards and vehicles that cannot talk to each other from region to region. It adds that failure to develop these globally harmonised standards would delay deployment, decrease reliability and unnecessarily increase costs.

Ford’s researchers are already developing advanced crash avoidance systems that use GPS technologies and advanced Wi-Fi signals, or dedicated short-range communications, on a secured channel allocated by the Federal Communications Commission. The essence is to create intelligent vehicles that communicate with each other in traffic and help drivers avoid or mitigate crashes.

In Germany, the company is collaborating on a wireless research project with other automakers and the government in an effort to address congestion-related traffic safety issues. The Safe and Intelligent Mobility-Test Field Germany research project, which runs through 2012, is a 400-vehicle field test to evaluate feasibility and scalability of wireless systems in the real world.

The Wi-Fi-based radio system allows full-range, 360-degree detection of potentially dangerous situations, such as when a driver’s vision is obstructed. For example, drivers could be alerted if their vehicle is on path to collide with another vehicle at an intersection, when a vehicle ahead stops or slows suddenly or when a traffic pattern changes on a busy highway. The systems could also warn drivers if there is a risk of collision when changing lanes, approaching a stationary or parked vehicle, or if another driver loses control.

Over in the US, meanwhile, it’s contributing two prototype Ford Taurus sedans for a series of clinics slated for later this year. The research will be conducted by a coalition of automakers organised by the Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership (CAMP), a joint research group founded by Ford and General Motors which is working to develop inter-operability standards in advance of completing the research phase in 2013.

By reducing crashes, intelligent vehicles could ease traffic delays, which would save drivers both time and fuel costs. Congestion also could be avoided through a network of intelligent vehicles and infrastructure that would process real-time traffic and road information and allow drivers to choose less congested routes.