Researchers funded by the European Commission are to begin tests this month of a system called E-merge that automatically senses when a car has crashed and then sends a text message telling emergency services that the accident has taken place.

The E-merge system consists of a cellphone-sized device fitted in the car.  Attached to the underside of the dashboard the device is activated by the same sensor that triggers the car’s airbags in a crash.

By reading the deceleration data from the car’s airbag sensor the E-merge system automatically registers the severity of the crash.  Using Global Positioning System (GPS) information, it then works out which country the car is in, and then determines in which language to send an alert text message detailing the precise location of the accident.

The device then automatically makes a call to the local emergency services operator. If the car’s occupants are conscious, they can communicate with the operator via the speaker and microphone. E-merge also automatically transmits the vehicle’s make, model, colour and licence number to the emergency services. 

The system was developed by ERTICO, a transport technology research organisation based in Brussels.