New technology that allows vehicles to “talk” to each other is the next groundbreaking effort between automakers, the US Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to greatly improve safety for drivers and passengers. According to Anthony Foxx, Transportation Secretary, the technology could make as much of a difference as seatbelts did in the 1960’s or airbags did in the 80’s.
Foxx says, “The potential of this technology is absolutely enormous.” He also said, “V2V has the potential to help drivers avoid 70 to 80 percent of crashes that involve unimpaired drivers.”
V2V technology will use a dedicated short range radio network to connect vehicles to each other from up to 300 yards away and provide a 360-degree view around the vehicle to allow the car to “see” its surroundings, even around obstructive structures and other vehicles.
The potential uses are many; V2V could compliment adaptive cruise control technology or rear detection systems as well as anti-lock braking systems already in place. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, the University of Michigan is working with the government to assess the technology in a fleet of 3,000 vehicles. They aren’t alone in their research, though; almost every automaker is doing some sort of V2V tech development. In Germany, engineers are working on communication between vehicles and infrastructure like traffic lights. GM is working on pedestrian protection by studying a system wherein wireless phone signals could alert vehicles of the presence of foot traffic.
Of course, caution must be used. The Association of Global Automakers had positive things to say about the new technology that “has the potential to save thousands of lives,” but warned that the 5.9 GHz frequency band that the feds are considering using for V2V is the same spectrum that may be opened by the FCC for unlicensed Wi-Fi device access. The integrity of communication could be compromised, says the association’s CEO Michael Stanton. “Communication delays of even thousandths of a single second matter when dealing with auto and highway safety. That’s why we are working with the Wi-Fi industry to find out if this spectrum can safely be shared.”
The feds also assure that although it is understood that there are privacy concerns, V2V systems will never record, store or send personal information.
There is no set deadline for the rollout of V2V technology, but Foxx said that a proposal could be finished by the end of the current presidential administration.