Toy­otas to be­gin ‘talk­ing’ in 2021

The Detroit News - - News - BY JOHN LIP­PERT AND TODD SHIELDS Bloomberg News

Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp. laid out plans to start putting short­range com­mu­ni­ca­tions chips in U.S. ve­hi­cles in the next three years, stak­ing out its po­si­tion in a bat­tle to make cars safer by get­ting them to “talk” with one an­other.

The au­tomaker will put the chips in Toy­ota and Lexus mod­els in the U.S. start­ing in 2021, said An­drew Coet­zee, group vice pres­i­dent of prod­uct plan­ning for North Amer­ica. The tech­nol­ogy will en­able cars to send data on their lo­ca­tion and speed to sur­round­ing ve­hi­cles and road­side in­fras­truc­ture to curb crashes.

By mak­ing the plan pub­lic, Toy­ota is es­ca­lat­ing a cam­paign to get the rest of the auto in­dus­try — and reg­u­la­tors — to em­brace the tech­nol­ogy. It’s also headed for a clash with phone com­pa­nies that would rather see car­mak­ers em­brace 5G cel­lu­lar net­works to ac­com­plish the same task, and with tech gi­ants and ca­ble providers that are angling for ac­cess to the same air­waves.

The ded­i­cated short-range com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems Toy­ota will start us­ing, known as DSRC, send in­for­ma­tion back and forth to one an­other sev­eral times a sec­ond and can alert driv­ers to po­ten­tial col­li­sions be­fore they hap­pen. A broad coali­tion of auto com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Toy­ota and Gen­eral Mo­tors Co., urged U.S. Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Elaine Chao in Novem­ber to sup­port a “talk­ing cars” man­date for all new pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles by 2023.

“We need to make a tech­nol­ogy choice when there’s no reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ment in place,” John Ken­ney, di­rec­tor of net­work­ing re­search at the Toy­ota In­foTech­nol­ogy Cen­ter in Moun­tain View, Cal­i­for­nia, said by phone. “What we’re do­ing to­day is speak­ing up and say­ing we will de­ploy DSRC tech­nol­ogy and we en­cour­age other au­tomak­ers to do the same.”

When the Trans­porta­tion Depart­ment re­leased a pro­posal for the re­quire­ment in De­cem­ber 2016, reg­u­la­tors un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion es­ti­mated the tech­nol­ogy could pre­vent or mit­i­gate 80 per­cent of ve­hi­cle crashes not in­flu­enced by driver im­pair­ment.

But the push for a ve­hi­cle-tove­hi­cle, or V2V, com­mu­ni­ca­tions rule has stalled amid Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s drive to dereg­u­late. The man­date also ran into push­back from the lob­by­ing group for tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies in­clud­ing Ap­ple Inc., Google, Face­book Inc. and Ama­zon.com Inc., which fa­vors shar­ing the air­waves.

The pri­mary ca­ble in­dus­try trade group has said the Na­tional High­way Traf­fic Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion over­stepped its au­thor­ity by seek­ing to in­di­rectly in­flu­ence wire­less spec­trum pol­icy over­seen by the Fed­eral Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­mis­sion.

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