The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced today that it will begin taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for automobiles. This technology should improve safety by allowing vehicles to “talk” to each other and ultimately avoid crashes altogether by exchanging basic safety data, such as speed and position, ten times per second. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a written statement:
“Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we’ve already seen with safety belts and air bags. By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry.”
V2V communications can provide the vehicle and driver with automated 360-degree situational awareness to address additional crash situations – including those, for example, in which a driver needs to decide if it is safe to pass on a two-lane road (potential head-on collision), make a left turn across the path of oncoming traffic, or in which a vehicle approaching at an intersection appears to be on a collision course. In those situations, V2V communications can detect threats hundreds of yards from other vehicles that cannot be seen, often in situations in which on-board sensors alone cannot detect the threat.
The safety applications currently being developed provide audio and visual warnings to drivers so that they can prevent imminent collisions, but do not automatically correct any vehicle systems, such as braking or steering. NHTSA is also considering future applications that rely on on-board sensors. Those technologies are eventually expected to blend with the V2V technology. In addition to enhancing safety, these future applications and technologies could help drivers to conserve fuel and save time.
According to the Department of Transportation, V2V technology does not involve exchanging or recording personal information or tracking vehicle movements. The information sent between vehicles does not identify those vehicles, but merely contains basic safety data. Regardless, the system as contemplated contains several layers of security and privacy protection to ensure that vehicles can rely on messages sent from other vehicles and that a vehicle or group of vehicles would be identifiable through defined procedures only if there is a need to fix a safety problem.
In August 2012, DOT launched the Safety Pilot “model deployment” in Ann Arbor, Mich., where nearly 3,000 vehicles were deployed in the largest-ever road test of V2V technology. They said:
“V2V crash avoidance technology has game-changing potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on our nation’s roads. Decades from now, it’s likely we’ll look back at this time period as one in which the historical arc of transportation safety considerably changed for the better, similar to the introduction of standards for seat belts, airbags, and electronic stability control technology.”