Talking cars to save each other from theft

London, June 6 (ANI): Stealing a car will not be a cake-walk for car thieves anymore, for now a new type of car alarms would enable the vehicles themselves to look after each other's safety - just like a herd of animals under any potential threat from predators.

In this novel security system, cars will be talking to their neighbours constantly via hidden wireless transmitters, and if in case a thief tries to sweep it off, the cars would raise the alarm in a matter of seconds.

The system called SVATS (Sensor-network-based Vehicle Anti-theft System) has been designed by Hui Song from Frostburg State University, Maryland, US, in collaboration with colleagues at Pennsylvania State University.

"Multiple sensors hidden within the car would make it difficult, if not impossible, for a car thief to disable the system in a short period of time," New Scientist quoted Song, as saying.

In fact, this new model would also omit those false alerts, characteristic of traditional car alarms.

The system starts when the driver of the vehicle switches on the transmitters fitted inside using a remote control, at the time of leaving the car. Then the car sends out a "join" message to all the nearby cars. The cars chooses its nearest neighbours to act as its sentinels and prefers partners that need the lowest signal strength for communication, so that the system does not consume less of the car's battery. The car continues sending out periodic "alive" signals to these watchers, till the time the owner returns and it finally sends a "goodbye" message.

However, in case the "alive" messages die out without a "goodbye" message, then the cars acting as watchers would report a theft by transmitting a message to a central base station. This would intern trigger the alarm which in turn would notify the security guard of the car park, the owners of the vehicle, or the police.

In fact, the system will also sense if a car is moving unexpectedly by measuring the signal strength of any "alive" messages. And if that happens, it transmits a warning message to other cars that are keeping a check on the same vehicle, because it is likely to be moving.

But, a theft alarm message will only be sent to the base station if a watching car gets more than three such warning signals from different sources. This would decrease the chances of any false alarms known for anti-theft systems.

The researchers themselves drove off some cars to test how the system works, and found that SVATS detected all such "thefts" in a matter of just 4 to 9 seconds. The system was apparently resistant to false alarms caused by weather, or people walking around the car park, both of which can affect the signals between sensors. (ANI)

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