One of the biggest safety and traffic flow technologies coming is vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it is beginning to take steps to enable V2V technology for light vehicles. It allows vehicles to communicate information about their speed, conditions, and surroundings.
The technology currently being used in testing utilizes Dedicated Short Range Communications, or DSRC. It works in the 5.9 GHZ range with bandwidth of 75 MHz and a range of about 1000 meters (.62 miles). That’s certainly far enough to warn of accidents, road hazards, slower traffic flow and even pedestrians, traffic signals and crosswalks. It’s amazing, creating a sort of living mind on the roads. The implications are huge. Coupled with technologies like adaptive cruise control, it could even help adjust speeds between cars to make traffic flow much faster on freeways and highways. And more fuel efficient.
The icing on this cake is a potential 81% lower accident rate. That means less injuries, less fatalities and lower insurance rates. Airbags, seat belts and ABS are all great, but not getting into an accident in the first place is even better.
In 2012, the DOT conducted a test using 3000 connected vehicles (cars, trucks and buses). The vehicles were able to send and receive anonymous safety data between one another, and they were able to communicate warnings to drivers in cases of possible crashes.
This technology will be even more useful when it rolls out in larger numbers of new vehicles. The average vehicle on the road is 11 years old, meaning that it will take a years to reach critical mass to make it truly effective. There is talk of using smartphone apps to assist in this, though they would have to be coupled to another device in the car. GM has been experimenting with transponders. Possibly in the same way you can currently add a bluetooth speaker to your car to work with your phone in cars that don’t have it built in, you could have a device that does much the same for V2V, working with your smartphone (or without). It’s doubtful that could all be built in to your smartphone, as that adds a whole new radio. Think bigger, heavier phone with more battery drain. And unnecessary for anyone who doesn’t drive.
The NHTSA offers that anonymous data will be open to the public so it can be used for safety, mobility and environmental applications. Will it be truly anonymous?
This raises all kinds of security concerns. The information should be anonymized and only used between vehicles, not enabled for tracking vehicles, reporting speeds, etc. And it has to be secure enough that some yahoo on the side of the road can’t hack in and create custom traffic flow (or lack thereof) and wreak havoc. That technology is currently being worked on, to enable vehicles to know when they are communicating with a credible vehicle or infrastructure.
We are going to have a very close eye on this technology and how it is implemented. Standards will have to be set, not only to handle OEM standards and implementation, but also standardized controls and alerts so people can readily understand what is going on and how to respond/react and interact with automation (e.g. adaptive cruise control, etc.). This should be discussed internationally, because it won’t work well if Japanese cars have different controls than German or American cars. You can actually weigh in on your thoughts and concerns on the Intelligent Transportation Systems’ site here.