Photo: RIA Novosti
US federal regulators want cars to be able to ‘talk’ to others on the road in a bid to reduce motor vehicle crashes and to help motorists avoid traffic jams. Vehicle-to-vehicle technology could be used to pass information about weather and traffic conditions from one vehicle to the next, alerting a driver to take a detour around a tie-up or when roads are icy.
After years of study, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Monday it will begin taking steps that could eventually require all new cars and trucks to be equipped with so-called vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, technology, calling it a key to saving lives while also improving traffic flow in major urban areas.
“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 US 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 US remains the leader in the global automotive industry.”
At its most basic, V2V technology could be used to pass information about weather and traffic conditions from one vehicle to the next, alerting a driver, for example, to take a detour around a tie-up or when roads are icy. The technology could be used to signal motorists when a driver runs a stoplight, giving them time to hit their brakes.
The technology also could be linked to local roadway systems to get even more detailed information about road and weather conditions. Meanwhile, a vehicle equipped with the technology could also get alerts to where the driver might find an open parking spot in a crowded downtown.
At its most advanced, V2V technology could become critical to the development of the autonomous vehicles that many automotive manufacturers hope to put into production by the beginning of the next decade.
The US government plans to release a more complete report on the research program later this month and will announce proposed rules before the end of the Obama administration.
A number of research programs exploring the potential — and potential problems — of V2V technology are now under way across the country, including an extensive public-private project based in Ann Arbor, Mich., dubbed the Safety Pilot “model deployment,” which involved nearly 3,000 vehicles. Initial feedback has been extremely favorable, with participant Jeff Cowall telling TheDetroitBureau.com he would be “very” pleased to have the technology available on a much wider scale.
There are still a number of questions to be answered, including the scope of the technology, the means to ensure different vehicles’ communications gear can talk to one another and, of course, cost. But proponents contend that many of the basics are already available on modern vehicles equipped with electronic engine and brake controllers. The key will be coming up with the right communications systems and then figuring out the best way to alert drivers to dangers ahead — or to trigger automatic action by the vehicle itself.
Voice of Russia, NBC News