NHTSA May Require Cars to Talk to Each Other

Posted on Dec 28, 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) wants manufacturers to produce all new cars and other light duty vehicles with dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) radios installed so vehicles can communicate with other vehicles that are close to them. The V2V (vehicle to vehicle) proposal has made it through the first couple of administrative steps toward becoming an official rule, reports Forbes.

How would installing DSRC radios in cars affect us?

The NHTSA hopes that DSRC radios will make our roads safer for all drivers, especially as we head toward vehicle automation. DSRC would be an improvement over the current driver assist systems available in some vehicles. The existing driver assist systems rely on sensors, which face line of sight limitations. They use radar, a camera, or a sensor. These cannot see through other large vehicles or around corners.

Instead of sensors, DSRC would use radio signals similar to WiFi. It would have a range of 1,000 to 1,500 feet. Vehicles would constantly broadcast information to each other. This would allow a vehicle to let the vehicles behind it know about adverse road conditions or oncoming Vehicles.

Where are we with DSRC technology?

Toyota already has a DSRC system in the Japanese market. The system, which the company launched in 2015, provides smoother operation with cruise control, and alerts drivers about conditions that are not yet within their range of vision. Cadillac is working on launching the first V2V system in the United States in early 2017.

Are there any potential hurdles?

There are two hurdles the NHTSA might face.

First, not everyone supports the idea of V2V technology. Some individuals in the auto and communications industries believe using 5G technology would work better; however, 5G will not be ready soon enough. The NHTSA has agreed to work with these ideas as long as they do not jeopardize the “safety goals of V2V.”

Second, because President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to reassess all federal regulations, this could hinder the passing of the V2V rule.

Even though the NHTSA could face hurdles, most auto manufacturers and suppliers are on board with the proposed mandate.

If it passes all the hurdles, what happens next?

If the V2V proposal makes it through the remaining hurdles, it will become the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 150 (FMVSS 150). If it continues going forward, it could become a final rule around late 2017 or early 2018.

A period of graduated implementation would begin roughly two years after that time. In the first year of the multi-step process, 50 percent of the new vehicles manufactured would contain the DSRC devices. In year two, 75 percent of new vehicles would have the devices, and beginning in year three, all new light duty vehicles would contain the devices.

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