Your car may one day warn you if a tsunami is coming

Top Stories

Your car may one day warn you if a tsunami is coming

HAMBURG - One day soon, your car may be able to alert you if a tsunami, tornado or other disaster is imminent, according to a team of German scientists.

By (DPA)

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Wed 5 Aug 2009, 7:15 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:53 AM

In the past, sirens howled to warn the population against floods, large fires or chemical accidents. Today, however, there is no extensive warning system in most countries following the dismantling of sirens after the Cold War.

Researchers of the Fraunhofer Institute for Technological Trend Analysis INT in Euskirchen, Germany, have come up with a way to allow authorities to beam disaster warnings to your car, which will then inform you of the approaching danger.

German researchers of the INT have applied for a patent for technology which allows the horns of parked cars to be activated in case of disaster.

The technology is based on the eCall emergency system, which new cars in many European countries are going to be equipped with 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, such as when the airbags are triggered. It can transmit data about accident time, location and driving direction of the vehicle to an emergency call centre.

The INT researchers found out that this infrastructure can also be used to receive signals. Once the cars are equipped with a radio receiver, their horns can be triggered in case of disaster.

The receiver would of course only be activated by civil defence protection agencies. These might alert all vehicles within certain GPS co-ordinates to begin sounding their horns - even if their ignitions are turned off.

Dr Guido Huppertz from the INT’s Technology Analyses and Forecasts (TAV) department has worked on the system and explains the advantages of honking cars.

‘All hitherto suggested solutions such as mobile phones or smoke detectors only inform the respective device user. The entire population can only be informed if 100 per cent are equipped with these devices,’ he says.

The INT suggestion has a clear statistical advantage since a mere 14 per cent 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,’ Huppertz predicts.

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 states. ‘As far as the authorities are concerned, the necessary infrastructure is already available.’

More news from