Autonomous car technologies aren’t the only cutting-edge features carmakers are researching.
There has been a lot of discussion lately on the development of autonomous — or self-driving — cars. Another advanced technology being studied, one you may not be hearing about, allows vehicles to talk to one another. One federal agency is hoping this advancement will make our roadways safer.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed rules that would require automakers to include something called connected vehicle technology, or vehicle-to-vehicle technology, in light-duty vehicles. Comments are being accepted now.
Vehicle-to-vehicle technology, also referred to as V2V, allows vehicles with short-range radio communication (DSRC) devices to “talk” to each other. By exchanging information, drivers can be alerted if an impending crash is about to occur. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has been researching this advanced technology. Will Knight, senior editor of MIT Technology Review, noted:
[…] it lets cars broadcast their position, speed, steering-wheel position, brake status, and other data to other vehicles within a few hundred meters. The other cars can use such information to build a detailed picture of what’s unfolding around them, revealing trouble that even the most careful and alert driver, or the best sensor system, would miss or fail to anticipate.
Bells, Whistles, and More
As explained in the same article, MIT is working with Cadillac DTS to further explore V2V technology, which to date has been successful.
For instance, a system being tested now at the General Motors’ research center in Warren, Michigan, uses a variety of alarm signals — beeps, flashing lights, and buzzing seats — to warn the driver of a V2V-equiped vehicle of an impending collision with another V2V-equipped vehicle. The technology even detects vehicles that are obscured from the driver’s view.
Is V2V in Your Future?
Despite the fact that V2V communication has been researched for more than a decade, there are no definite plans to make the technology mandatory. In December 2016, NHTSA released a federal notice on the mandate as an early step. Public feedback and industry comment on that rule change will be accepted until April 12, 2017.
According to Automotive News, there also are some disagreements among automakers, cable providers, and tech companies on the radio frequency that would be used for this technology. The Federal Communications Commission is working on a resolution so V2V can move forward.
It’s All About Safe Driving
According to the NHTSA, up to 80 percent of car accidents with unimpaired drivers would be eliminated or reduced in severity if vehicles could communicate with one another. The safety agency also estimates that each year this communication technology could prevent 400,000 to 600,000 crashes and save between 780 and 1,080 lives.
As for the cost, the NHTSA estimates that V2V equipment would add about $350 per vehicle. This seems a small price to pay when you consider how many car accidents could be avoided — and how many lives could be saved.