Your car is about to get a lot more chatty. The Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today that Vehicle-To-Vehicle (V2V) technologies will be coming to all new cars. At some point in the future. Most likely.

The basic idea behind the technology is that the vehicles share data - things like speed and position – with other vehicles around them, up to hundreds of yards away, ten times a second. The technology does not share personal movement but will allow your car to "see" vehicles that are around a corner and alert you to their presence. Today's announcement, available below, is really just a signal to automotive stakeholders that the federal government is interested in V2V and will now start working on what the rules for introducing this technology will be. Despite the image the DOT provided, there was no announcement about V2V for larger vehicles, as today's announcement was only applicable to light vehicles.

Speaking on a conference call with reporters today, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman and US DOT Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology Greg Winfree emphasized the safety angle of V2V technology, but also mentioned that V2V can help drivers save fuel. "Early indications show V2V has the potential to help drivers avoid 70 to 80 percent of vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers," Foxx said. Friedman added, "I believe that this V2V technology will represent an advance in roadway transportation matched only by the development of the interstate highway system itself."

A more cautionary perspective was offered by the Association of Global Automakers. CEO Michael Stanton said that while the technology has potential, the 5.9-GHz frequency band that V2V could use is already in use by some Wi-Fi devices. "We're concerned that opening up the 5.9 GHz frequency band to other wireless users could cause harmful interference and affect the integrity of the V2V safety communications. Communication delays of even thousandths of a single second matter when dealing with auto and highway safety. That's why we are working with the Wi-Fi industry to find out if this spectrum can safely be shared," he told WIRED.

DOT has been testing V2V technologies for years but did not announce any concrete timing for the introduction of V2V in cars, just calling the time frame "fluid." One thing we're pretty sure of is that this announcement can only hasten the arrival of autonomous cars, despite the fact that the technology today doesn't include any V2V bits that interact with a vehicle's control mechanisms. That could come in the future. You can read more on DOT's view on V2V here and here.
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U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Decision to Move Forward with Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Technology for Light Vehicles

NHTSA 05-14
Monday, February 3, 2014

WASHINGTON – 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 light vehicles. This technology would improve safety by allowing vehicles to "talk" to each other and ultimately avoid many crashes altogether by exchanging basic safety data, such as speed and position, ten times per second.

"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," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "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."

DOT research indicates that safety applications using V2V technology can address a large majority of crashes involving two or more motor vehicles. With safety data such as speed and location flowing from nearby vehicles, vehicles can identify risks and provide drivers with warnings to avoid other vehicles in common crash types such as rear-end, lane change, and intersection crashes. These safety applications have been demonstrated with everyday drivers under both real-world and controlled test conditions.

The safety applications currently being developed provide warnings to drivers so that they can prevent imminent collisions, but do not automatically operate any vehicle systems, such as braking or steering. NHTSA is also considering future actions on active safety technologies that rely on on-board sensors. Those technologies are eventually expected to blend with the V2V technology. NHTSA issued an Interim Statement of Policy in 2013 explaining its approach to these various streams of innovation. In addition to enhancing safety, these future applications and technologies could help drivers to conserve fuel and save time.

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. In fact, 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. DOT testing is indicating interoperability of V2V technology among products from different vehicle manufacturers and suppliers and has demonstrated that they work in real-world environments.

In driver clinics conducted by the Department prior to the model deployment, the technology showed high favorability ratings and levels of customer acceptance. Participants indicated they would like to have V2V safety features on their personal vehicle.

"V2V crash avoidance technology has game-changing potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on our nation's roads," said NHTSA Acting Administrator David Friedman. "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."

NHTSA is currently finalizing its analysis of the data gathered as part of its year-long pilot program and will publish a research report on V2V communication technology for public comment in the coming weeks. The report will include analysis of the Department's research findings in several key areas including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits. NHTSA will then begin working on a regulatory proposal that would require V2V devices in new vehicles in a future year, consistent with applicable legal requirements, Executive Orders, and guidance. DOT believes that the signal this announcement sends to the market will significantly enhance development of this technology and pave the way for market penetration of V2V safety applications.

"We are pleased with the direction NHTSA is taking in terms of V2V technology," said Greg Winfree, Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology. "The decision to move forward comes after years of dedicated research into the overwhelming safety benefits provided by a connected vehicle environment."

V2V communications can provide the vehicle and driver with 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.

NHTSA has worked in close partnership in this research both with other DOT agencies, including the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology and the Federal Highway Administration, and with several leading auto manufacturers and academic research institutions, who have invested significant resources into developing and testing V2V technology. The collaboration of government, industry and academia is critical to ensure V2V technology's interoperability across vehicles.

Find more more information on the Department's vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology research.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 105 Comments
      Larry Litmanen
      • 1 Year Ago
      The argument for more driver training is idiotic. We pour BILLIONS a year into our education system and our students still underperform, so how realistic is it that even if we change the driver ed to say 2 weeks from 6 hours it is in NYC. People will not learn, plus common sense says not to text and drive or drink and drive and yet people do it................it is much easier to take the people out of it.
      samcrut
      • 1 Year Ago
      This just sounds to me like a car tracking system. Here in Dallas, there are toll tag scanners on various side streets that have nothing to do with toll tags.
        waetherman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @samcrut
        I think the pint you just made (inadvertently, perhaps) is that car tracking already happens, and that this proposed system at least has the benefit of reducing accidents by as much as 80%. Provided it's built with protections against tracking, I don't see how this could be a bad thing.
      Krazeecain
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is depressing, not too long ago I would've agreed that this kind of system is a good idea, and potentially very useful for a lot of applications. I mean, we have the technology, and it isn't that expensive at all, so why not?! ...Oh right, government. This huge publicly funded body that's supposed to be completely trustworthy, but has proven otherwise time and time again. Now when I read articles like this, or hear about the NSA or something, I feel like some kind of anachronistic absurdity. I love computers and all forms of new, interesting technology, and yet I'm vehemently opposed to otherwise no-brainer schemes such as this. *sigh* I wish they would just take a few steps back and leave us alone now...
        knightrider_6
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Krazeecain
        So I'm assuming you don't use cell phones either?
          Krazeecain
          • 1 Year Ago
          @knightrider_6
          I have a Nexus 4, on a network owned by a private company. (Actually writing this comment with it lol.)
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Krazeecain
        99% of the spying is not government... it is corporate. Companies wanting to collect data so they can target advertisements at you. Everyone has fears of the government using data in nefarious ways.... but really, the NSA doesn't care about your personal life. There are no voyeuristic agents in dark rooms with your email and cell phone records. They may collect metadata (and that is something to be debated), but they do not use the data to actually target you (unless you know a terrorist). Companies, however, do this all the time. Buying and selling personal information with each other (unless you spend extra time to opt out) to target you with advertisements... so they can get you to buy their products. The biggest act of misdirection of our time.... fear the government, while corporations take you for a ride.
          ThatsHowIRoll
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Joeviocoe, a company that knows everything about me can try to sell me stuff. I can opt out of a purchase. A government that knows everything about me can prosecute me, and I can't opt out of that. (So don't break the law, you say. That's a lot easier said than done: http://ulrichboser.com/how-many-felonies-did-you-commit-today-an-interview-with-harvey-silverglate/ ) A government that knows everything about everybody can abuse huge groups of people.
          Krazeecain
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Sorry I forgot to mention this (I was trying to keep my comment short) but public officials are heavily funded by corporations, so technology like this would inevitably be abused by the private sector (maybe not this particular scheme as I don't see it being that useful to them but things like it.) My biggest fear right now is that everything seems to be going in the direction of "The Minority Report" (minus Tom Cruise and the fortune tellers) and I quite simply don't want to live in a world like that.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Krazeecain
        I feel ya man.. been a computer geek since i got out of the womb. Computers and the internet used to mean freedom. In the last decade, they have been turned into devices to spy and collect data. I think it has really hampered geekdom as a whole. That, and a lot of people are using 'closed' platforms today like mobile devices. Your car's CPU is designed to be inaccessible and there are no standards for designing them.. it's not something i want, i know that.. it's kinda why i love my mid 90's cars, despite the fuel economy being blahse compared to new cars.
          Krazeecain
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Yeah, I'd love it if a car manufacturer would sell a car with an open source computer. (Or at least fully accessible without super expensive hardware) I might actually consider buying a new car again then...
          Alfonso T. Alvarez
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          "Your car's CPU is designed to be inaccessible and there are no standards for designing them.." Wrong, wrong, wrong. First, there are on the order of 40-80 'CPU's' (microprocessors is the correct term) in a vehicle. There are tons of standards, ISO, SAE, etc., etc. Multiple networks exist in a modern vehicle, powertrain, chassis, body controls, infotainment, etc., etc. Physical layers include CAN, LIN, FlexRay, etc. How do you think that they communicate with each other in your vehicle? How does a FlexRay node (safety critical system typically) get information from a CAN node - powertrain, chassis? How does a LIN node (body controls - i.e. door modules, seat modules, etc.) get information from a CAN node?
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          *watching you split hairs* wow, that's an incredible hair splitting machine you got there, sir.
      Cruising
      • 1 Year Ago
      " The safety applications currently being developed provide warnings to drivers so that they can prevent imminent collisions, but do not automatically operate any vehicle systems, such as braking or steering." I assume these being visual and audible warnings? Still will not help because some drivers will probably not know how to react and crash anyway. Also let's take into account reaction times of a person from a distracted state such as texting to recognizing the warning to actually taking action. God forbid a driver just shrugs off the warning, don't act surprised you know we have plenty of idiots that probably would.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cruising
        Back in my day, the warning systems were your eyes and ears.. ...call me old fashioned...
          Alfonso T. Alvarez
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          "As people get older and stay on the road, accidents are going to increase. Just sayin'." Really? You do know that the biggest percentage of accidents and driving fatalities are caused by drivers 16 to 20 years old, right??
          waetherman
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Back in your day, traffic fatalities were two to three times as high; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_motor_vehicle_deaths_in_U.S._by_year Also, people who say "back in my day" are generally the largest segment of the population right now, and the ones most in need of glasses. As people get older and stay on the road, accidents are going to increase. Just sayin'.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Cruising
        Warning the driver is an obvious intermediate step... just to make sure the system works to catch every event that a human would catch, and more. Autonomous vehicles will eventually take over..... because I really do not trust the eyes and ears of people anymore... they fail too often.
      dovegraybird
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't see a lot of gains from it. All this does is light up the dash and ring a warning to the driver, it doesn't act automatically, it is still dependant on the driver to correct. Lets see, other than the people who are drunk, stoned, over-tired, yacking on cell phones, yelling at kids in the backseat, eating, drinking, doing make-up, looking for directions, driving with the radio too loud, and zoning out completely, it should be successful. Umm, everyone else already drives good, soooooo...hmmmmm. Only plus I can see with this is that there would be a smaller vehicle total on chain reactions, but even that is suspect.
        Cayman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @dovegraybird
        But it can let the attentive driver know that the drunk guy, talking to his phone while yelling at his kids in the backseat is going to fast to stop at the red light so that the attentive driver knows not to go forward and get t-boned.
      Mike
      • 1 Year Ago
      There could be many great things about this, but due to lack of security in telematics as is, noooooooooooooooo. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/tech/tadayoshi-kohno.html
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Mike
        luckily, nothing in IT is really, "as is". Airing in 2012, it is likely there has been some patches. It is an arms race, as Yoshi mentions, which means automakers need to improve, but a system like this will save far more lives than the risks it poses.
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      The idea is good, but the data rate of 10 times per second is just way too slow. It needs to be increased at least 5X to 10X. That way cars could do automated drafting on thefreeway. One car could follow within inches of the car in front of it, and you could save a lot of gas.
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Puts on long-term view and tin-foil hat . . . . wow, car transponders and drones are gonna make it easy for governments to eliminate anyone they don't like.
      ThatsHowIRoll
      • 1 Year Ago
      Dear citizen. Your driving data shows that over the last week you sped through 3 yellow lights, 1 red light, failed to yield 2 times and went over the speed limit 7 times. Please pay the attached fines within the next 5 business days. Drive safe! Attachment: 20140201-drvtckt110121.pdf Attachment: 20140203-drvtckt110217.pdf Attachment: 20140204-drvtckt110304.pdf Attachment: 20140207-drvtckt110556.pdf (Shamelessly plagiarized from another commenter on another site.)
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ThatsHowIRoll
        Also, as it stands, yellow lights are timed to allow for both the reaction time of drivers and the braking distance of the average speed coming down the road. Speed limits are intentionally lower than the average speed... (in some areas, for revenue) in most areas, because most people will overspeed by a small amount of the stated limit. If computers drove 75% or more of the vehicles on the road, we might see some changes. Speed limits going up, to account for the increase in safety.
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ThatsHowIRoll
        A bit exaggerated with the yellow lights and the 5 days.... but ultimately yes. That is what traffic cameras already do. This would be a good incentive to just allow complete autonomous control for cars... you cannot ticket a driver, because a computer won't aggressively run lights nor mistakenly drive over the speed limit.
          ThatsHowIRoll
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          The traffic camera isn't a GoPro mounted on the roof of my own car. That's kind of where I see this headed. The owner of an autonomous vehicle could still be ticketed, as they would be responsible for their machine's actions. Making all vehicles autonomous would pretty much moot this issue, agreed.
          Joeviocoe
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          If maintenance was neglected, perhaps the driver will be ticketed. But this legal domain has yet to be worked out.
        ThatsHowIRoll
        • 1 Year Ago
        @ThatsHowIRoll
        Joeviocoe, no disagreements with your comments, except that municipalities can't seem to resist the temptation to re-time yellows to be shorter when red light cameras are present. My concern is that same temptation will be there for every municipality to mine this broadcast data for ticket revenue. If we could enforce all laws 100%, would we even want to?
          Ryan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ThatsHowIRoll
          It is better to use this so when you run your red lights, some semi knows to stop instead of T-boning you.
          ThatsHowIRoll
          • 1 Year Ago
          @ThatsHowIRoll
          Ryan, I'm not proposing we don't use the technology, I'm proposing we have legal safeguards to ensure the city/county/state/etc. doesn't try to balance their budget by enforcing all traffic laws without any common sense. I don't know how to accomplish that - government and common sense are rarely found in the same place. I've lived nearly five decades and don't know anybody who got T-boned by a semi, so if it has to be an either/or choice, I'll take my chances with the semi to keep Uncle Sam from shoving his other hand in my pocket.
      Feurig
      • 1 Year Ago
      If you're giving off your speed information, doesn't that technically make it easier to catch speeders?
        Joeviocoe
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Feurig
        Nothing a radar gun can't already do with enough accuracy to fine you today.
          ThatsHowIRoll
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          The radar gun doesn't ride along in your car with you and scream, "I'm speeding now! 2 MPH over! Give a ticket to citizen 14B96974C!" on the radio.
      Ryan
      • 1 Year Ago
      There will need to be add-on kits for existing cars. I would expect the insurance companies would push this and even give them away for free to every customer. And honestly, with the number of people who are killed and the insurance money this would save, I am surprised this doesn't exist already.
        ThatsHowIRoll
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Ryan
        And honestly, with the amount of ticket revenue to be extracted from people and the increased profits for insurance companies, I am surprised the lobbyists haven't gotten this mandated already. Fixed it for you.
      WhoMeWhere
      • 1 Year Ago
      Soon we will have to hack and turn off all this extra crap to drive our cars on the track. I expect that every system would freak out expecting the car to crash and end up being the actual crashes on the track.
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