Obama to tout government and auto industry's combined work on 'talking' cars

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday plans to highlight his administration's work alongside researchers and the private sector to develop vehicles that "talk" to each other using wireless technology.

In a visit to a government highway research center in Virginia, Obama is expected to tout work on so-called vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication technology to improve navigation, according to the White House.

The technology allows cars, trucks and other vehicles to send real-time information wirelessly, an innovation researchers hope can help reduce accidents and boost fuel efficiency by alleviating traffic.

U.S. regulators are already crafting a proposed rule that would require all new vehicles to use such technology, which could be put in place by early 2017 before Obama leaves office.

At Tuesday's event, Obama is expected to showcase efforts to ensure vehicle-to-vehicle communication is safe, pointing to a joint effort between leading carmakers and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co, Honda Motor Co, Hyundai Motor Co, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America, Inc., Nissan Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp, and Volkswagen AG are all part of the research effort, according to the White House.

Current tests are looking at how wireless technology could improve safety when used with sensor-based technologies aimed at deterring vehicle crashes, the White House said.

The Transportation Department has finished two phases of testing, it added. One pilot study involved "a highly concentrated environment of vehicles 'talking' to each other" with 3,000 cars, trucks and buses, while another focused on driver acceptance issues.

At the Department of Transportation's Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, which Obama will visit, researchers test new technologies aimed at use on highways.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Tom Brown)