For road safety, fed­eral gov­ern­ment wants cars to talk to one an­other

The Denver Post - - NATION & WORLD - By Joan Lowy The Wash­ing­ton Post

The As­so­ci­ated Press

wash­ing­ton» All new cars and light trucks would be able to talk wire­lessly with each other, with traf­fic lights and with other road­way in­fras­truc­ture un­der a rule the Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment pro­posed Tues­day. Of­fi­cials say the tech­nol­ogy holds the po­ten­tial to dra­mat­i­cally re­duce traf­fic deaths and trans­form driv­ing.

Ve­hi­cle-to-ve­hi­cle com­mu­ni­ca­tions, or V2V, en­ables cars to trans­mit their lo­ca­tions, speed, di­rec­tion and other in­for­ma­tion 10 times per sec­ond. That lets cars de­tect, for ex­am­ple, when an­other ve­hi­cle is about to run a red light, is brak­ing hard, chang­ing lanes or com­ing around a blind turn in time for a driver or au­to­mated safety sys­tems to pre­vent a crash.

The tech­nol­ogy has the po­ten­tial to pre­vent or mit­i­gate the sever­ity of up to 80 per­cent of col­li­sions that don’t in­volve al­co­hol or drugs, of­fi­cials said.

“V2V will pro­vide 360-de­gree sit­u­a­tional aware­ness on the road,” said Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary An­thony Foxx. “We are car­ry­ing the ball as far as we can to re­al­ize the po­ten­tial of trans­porta­tion tech­nol­ogy to save lives.”

The Al­liance of Au­to­mo­bile Man­u­fac­tur­ers said it is re­view­ing the pro­posal but sees V2V as com­ple­men­tary to au­to­mated safety fea­tures that are in­creas­ingly be­ing added to ve­hi­cles.

Au­tomak­ers and the gov­ern­ment have been work­ing to­gether to de­velop tech­nol­ogy for more than a decade. Un­der the depart­ment’s pro­posal, V2V sys­tems would be re­quired to “speak the same lan­guage” through stan­dard­ized mes­sag­ing.

The Fed­eral High­way Ad­min­is­tra­tion plans to separately is­sue guid­ance to help trans­porta­tion plan­ners in­te­grate two-way wire­less tech­nol­ogy into road­way in­fras­truc­ture such as traf­fic lights, stop signs and work zones. Cars could com­mu­ni­cate in­for­ma­tion on road con­di­tions to the in­fras­truc­ture, which could then be passed along to other ve­hi­cles as they come along. Traf­fic lights would know when to stay green to avoid un­nec­es­sary wait­ing and re­duce con­ges­tion.

There is a 90-day com­ment pe­riod, and of­fi­cials said they ex­pect it will be about a year be­fore a fi­nal rule is re­leased.

The pro­posal calls for 50 per­cent of new ve­hi­cles to have the tech­nol­ogy within two years af­ter a fi­nal rule is is­sued, and 100 per­cent of ve­hi­cles within four years. It would still take years or even decades af­ter that for the full po­ten­tial of V2V to be re­al­ized. That’s be­cause V2V can pre­vent col­li­sions only among ve­hi­cles equipped with the tech­nol­ogy.

It takes decades for the en­tire fleet of ve­hi­cles on the road to turn over. But the process of spread­ing V2V through­out the fleet may go faster if, as ex­pected, de­vices are de­vel­oped that en­able mo­torists to add the tech­nol­ogy to older ve­hi­cles.

Some au­tomak­ers aren’t wait­ing for the fi­nal rule. Gen­eral Mo­tors has said pre­vi­ously that it plans to in­clude V2V in some 2017 Cadil­lacs. The 2017 Mercedes E-Class sedans are equipped with V2V.

V2V’s range is up to about 1,000 yards in all direc­tions, even when sight is blocked by build­ings or other ob­sta­cles. That gives the tech­nol­ogy the ad­van­tage of be­ing able to de­tect a po­ten­tial col­li­sion be­fore the driver can see the threat, un­like the sen­sors and cam­eras of self-driv­ing cars that sense what’s im­me­di­ately around the ve­hi­cle.

In­dus­try and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials see the two technologies as com­ple­men­tary. Ul­ti­mately, self­driv­ing cars that are equipped with V2V may be the an­swer to traf­fic con­ges­tion be­cause they’ll be able to syn­chro­nize their move­ments so that they can merge seam­lessly and safely travel in long, closely packed car­a­vans at higher speeds. That would im­prove traf­fic flow and in­crease high­way ca­pac­ity.

To ad­dress cy­ber­se­cu­rity, the pro­posal re­quires that V2V sys­tems em­ploy a se­cu­rity level of at least 128-bit en­cryp­tion and com­ply with bench­marks of the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Stan­dards and Tech­nol­ogy.

To pro­tect pri­vacy, V2V mes­sages are anony­mous — they don’t con­tain any in­for­ma­tion on the driver, owner, make or model.

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