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Should car-to-car talk be mandatory?

Posted: 22 Sep 2014     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:V2V  ADAS  DSRC 

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications will be mandated in the United States, but this may soon be the standard for other countries in the not-so-distant future. For car companies, V2V won't be an option, but for consumers, it won't be a nice feature to have if people can pay for it. By the end of the decade, V2V could become a new regulation, although many may argue that this is a big "if."

Under the V2V plan, your car would use a built-in transponder to broadcast its position, type, speed, and trajectory wirelessly 10 times a second in all directions. Other vehicles within range would do the same.

What for? For your safety, according to the Department of Transportation (DoT).

In theory, equipment installed in each car, bus, or truck would use incoming data to compute a possible collision course with another vehicle or object—and alert the driver if a crash is imminent.

Research released last month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that V2V's two safety applications—left turn assistance and intersection movement assistance—could prevent up to 592,000 crashes and save as many as 1,083 lives a year.

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An illustration of vehicle-to-vehicle communication. (Source: NHTSA)

Judging by more than 50 comments filed in the public comment section on the government's Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (excluding comments filed via letters), the public's general sentiment for V2V isn't exactly warm and fuzzy thus far. The comments range from "hell, no" and "I WILL NOT SUBMIT TO THIS RULE" to "Just another way for the Government to track our every move."

One commenter said, "Hostile parties using simple noise 'jamming' attacks can shut down V2V." Another said, "This is a great technology that will ultimately save thousands of lives. However, the concern around privacy/government tracking needs to be addressed before a mandate can be issued."

Well-founded fear

It's natural for people to fear new technologies, and the concerns about V2V security and privacy are well founded.

Do the government and the automotive industry need to offer better public education on V2V in earnest? You bet.

Do different players in the technology industry—beyond those already working for auto companies—need to participate in various V2V workshops? Absolutely. Too many pieces of technology aren't nailed down yet.

For example, Paul Hansen, publisher of The Hansen Report on Automotive Electronics, told us the proposed Security Credential Management System—an infrastructure to determine whether a message your car is receiving from another car is legitimate—is "one of the most ambitious, and daunting, security systems we've ever seen. So I was told by security experts."

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