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Vehicles May Soon Be Talking to Each Other

  • George Putic

U.S. regulators are close to approving new standards for enabling vehicles to communicate with each other, hoping the new technology will reduce traffic accidents. Within as little as three years, automakers may be required to equip all new cars with the so-called ‘vehicle-to-vehicle’ communication devices.

Vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, is a short-range communication technology that enables vehicles to exchange vital information 10 times per second, about location, speed, acceleration and braking. Cars will be able to calculate the hazard risk within about 300 meters and alert their drivers or even take automatic collision-avoidance action.

The drivers will be able to see, hear and even feel the hazard signals through vibration of the seat.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expects the new system to reduce the number of car accidents by as much as 80 percent, especially those where alcohol is not a factor.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Greg Winfree said the new technology will change the whole attitude toward car crashes.

“The way to look at it is the first 50 years of transportation safety were focused on surviving crashes. We see the future as technology that avoids crashes overall,” said Winfree.

Critics admit that V2V technology is revolutionary, but warn about possible conflicts in the wireless bands in which it will operate.

Scott Belcher, the chief operating officer of the advocacy group Intelligent Transportation Society of America, said, "If somehow we are sharing this spectrum and there's interference and so a car that could have, we could have prevented the crash, we are not able to prevent the crash because someone else is using the spectrum.”

Belcher said the public may may be concerned about privacy and the possibility of tracking individual drivers and their driving habits.

Government agencies and the private sector already have invested almost $1 billion in research.

Officials say they plan for the new technology to become mandatory by early 2017, and they see it as a first step toward a futuristic 21st Century integrated transportation system.

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