Wireless vehicle-to-vehicle communication would be required in new cars under proposed DOT rule

Chaim Gartenberg
A file photo showing a demonstration of a vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication system.
Daniel Acker | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The United States Department of Transportation announced today that it is proposing a rule to require vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology in new cars.

Vehicle-to-vehicle systems, or V2V, allows cars to communicate to each other in an effort to warn drivers about potential accidents and prevent crashes. The basic technology uses dedicated short-range radios to allow for the cars to communicate, and can send data such as location, speed, direction, and braking status. The DOT claims that the radio technology will have a range of about 300 meters, and offer a farther range than radar or camera sensors, in addition to not being as impaired by obstacles or other vehicles.

The DOT hopes that the technology would be used to warn drivers of oncoming dangers, particularly while turning at intersections or changing lanes. Additionally, the department notes that cars with automated driving system (or even fully self driving cars) would greatly benefit from the addition of V2V data in preventing or minimizing the dangers of accidents. The V2V announcement comes on the heels of the recently published DOT guidelines for self-driving cars from earlier this year.

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According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, "Once deployed, V2V will provide 360-degree situational awareness on the road and will help us enhance vehicle safety." The NHTSA estimates that the added safety benefits from V2V and V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, which the DOT plans to announce information on in the near future) could reduce or eliminate up to 80 percent of non-impaired crashes.

The technology also considers personal privacy, with the DOT claiming that no personal information about the driver or vehicle will be broadcast using V2V, only generic safety information. The NHTSA is also working to make sure the system is safe from a cybersecurity standpoint to ensure the data sent is protected from any digital attacks.

Currently the new rule is only a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, a notification that the Department of Transportation has publicly announced that it intends to make the V2V system required on all new light-vehicles, and is now open to a comment period of 90 days. After that point, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will then review and adjust the proposal as needed before instituting a final ruling on the requirement. V2V communication is a major deal in the future of road safety, particularly for self-driving cars, and today's announcement is yet another example of the current DOT leadership trying to pass a few more policies (such as the recent announcement for electric cars to make audible noise) before the upcoming change of administration when President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.