Engineers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed and tested a laser-based ranging system to assess the performance of automobile collision warning systems, according to ScienceDaily. Researchers in the industry and at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will be able to use the NIST technology to accelerate the development and commercialization of safety systems that alert drivers to multiple, and sometimes virtually simultaneous potential crash hazards – both from forward or side collisions as well as from running off the road. DOT estimates that widespread deployment of the crash warning systems may reduce rear-end, road departure and lane change collisions by 48 percent. NIST researchers developed an independent measurement system (IMS), consisting of a camera and microphone in the cab to detect the driver warning, a suite of calibrated cameras to measure the distance to lane boundaries and laser scanners to measure the distance to obstacles forward and to the side of the vehicle. ScienceDaily reports that if the NIST results indicate the warning systems pass DOT’s requirements, the next step is for the IVBSS to equip about 20 automobiles and 10 trucks with the warning systems. After the vehicles are used on the highway for a month, the DOT will analyze the data to refine its estimate of benefits if these systems were to be deployed in more vehicles.