Vehicle-To-Vehicle Technology Could Soon Be Required By Law

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Photo from JJ Look

Federal regulators are now looking at a proposal to make vehicle-to-vehicle technology mandatory in an effort to reduce the amount of traffic accidents and fatalities. In a recent report from Insurance Journal, it was revealed that the new proposal could find its way to President Barack Obama soon, although an exact date has yet to be announced. http://goo.gl/Tng2SF

Advocates are already speculating that such regulation could aid safety more than seat belts and air bags.

“Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news conference this week. “The potential of this technology is enormous.”

 

Cars Of The Future

Cisco Systems Inc. is one of many tech companies currently hoping to build the architecture that will lead to “connected cars,” IJ reports, adding that Google, Inc., and Tesla Motors, Inc., are two of the leaders in the employment of automated systems that would act as precursors to self-driving cars, a topic we’ve spoken about here in the past.

According to Foxx, the vehicle-to-vehicle technology would let cars automatically exchange safety data “such as speed and position 10 times per second and send warnings to drivers if an imminent collision is sensed.”

The planned systems would not be able to operate brakes or steering, “though such technologies are being studied,” IJ noted.

In the short term, this could appease opponents like Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat, who voiced concerns in May over the technology’s susceptibility to hackers. However, it’s unlikely opponents’ fears would go unchecked in the long term if, in fact, the tech is being developed, especially in light of the wide assortment of data breaches that have targeted large corporations in recent months.

Any window of opportunity for abuse, however small, could make this a difficult sell to opponents on account that a hack could endanger lives.

Still, organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the nation’s auto-safety regulator, believe it’s worth the effort. In May, the organization encouraged development of such technologies, feeling they could be vital components to the autonomous vehicle.

During that time, NHTSA launched a pilot project to test short-range communication technologies that it believed would prevent, “or reduce in severity, as many as 80 percent of crashes involving non-impaired drivers,” IJ stated, adding that about “a third of US highway fatalities are alcohol-related.”

Former NHTSA administrator David Strickland said at the time of the pilot project the agency was considering whether to regulate crash-imminent braking, which can already be found in some luxury models. The feature is designed to sense wrecks before they occur and automatically apply brakes.

A vehicle-to-vehicle system would theoretically take it to the next level and allow the cars to “talk” to one another to avoid collisions. It would also be able to sense vulnerabilities between a single car and the road, thus giving enough warning for potentially life-saving action to be taken.

While we don’t have an exact date of when to expect the polished regulation, it could happen before the end of President Obama’s second term as the NHTSA is conducting more focused research and consultations to determine viability. Those efforts could last as long as three years, so if they don’t occur on the President’s watch, then they would most likely be waiting on his successor.

The Transportation Department insists that technologies will not be used to track vehicle movements, nor would it allow for the exchange of personal information — two additional concerns that opponents have made known since talks began. “It would allow cars to be identified only for the purposes of fixing safety flaws,” IJ noted.

 

In Summary

Clearly, vehicle-to-vehicle technology has come a long way in the last few years. Recent moves like the Navia driverless car and Google’s own efforts at self-driving cars tell us the way we travel will look a lot different than it did when the automobile was first conceived close to a century ago.

However, V2V’s two remaining obstacles are pretty big ones:

First, it will have to be hacker-proof, and thus far, it’s difficult, if not impossible, finding a technology that is. In order to win public trust, motorists will need to be assured that their automobiles will be safe from malicious attacks.

Secondly, V2V tech is yet another form of “smart” technology capable of tracking movement, and that could intensify concerns among a NSA-weary public.

Do you think V2V is worth the risks, and how do you think the public will embrace future regulation requiring it? Share your thoughts in our comments section.

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