City and federal transportation officials have announced that New York is to receive $20 million as part of a pilot program to outfit as many as 10,000 vehicles with smart devices that will allow them to communicate with each other and to city infrastructure.

The government has been testing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in collaboration with the University of Michigan since 2012. As part of its expansion to New York, the city’s vehicles - including cars, yellow cabs, buses and trucks - are to be retrofitted with sensory devices that allow anonymous V2V communication to avert crashes. The technology is also being installed in some street infrastructure, such as poles and roadside units.

The devices create a network of communicating sensors sending out signals over a specific wireless spectrum band which warns drivers of any impending dangers, such as cars braking suddenly, vehicles in a blindspot or someone changing lanes without indicating. By using the Vehicle-to-infrastructure technology, drivers can be warned of dangers such as red-light violations and any stop signs they may not notice.

"Today's announcement is a big step forward for the future of how we move in this country, from our rural communities to our biggest cities," US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said.

The aim of the program is to cut the number of traffic crashes and deaths. The government said last year that it would eventually make V2V a requirement in all vehicles. One issue the technology has faced is that some senators want to open up the 5.9 GHz spectrum the network operates on to other users, which would result in V2V having to find a dedicated band in order to avoid interference from electrical devices such as smartphones.

New York is joining Tampa, Florida, and Wyoming in testing the V2V system. The program is also looking at implementing the technology into pedestrian’s smartphones which, for example, could alert drivers if they are in danger of hitting someone on a crosswalk.