MADISON, Wis. -- In its announcement on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology Monday, the US Dept. of Transportation (DOT) pledged to “begin taking steps to enable” V2V for light vehicles. But the government agency stopped short of proposing rules on the technology, a necessary step to trigger a chain of events that could lead the industry to an eventual mandate of V2V on every light vehicle in the United States.
However, it is unclear if the Monday announcement provided enough heft (and urgency) to put an end to naysayers’ arguments against V2V.
V2V continues to be a divisive issue, splitting the industry into two extremes: those who think the government’s V2V mandate is dead-on-arrival versus those who believe in the V2V initiative to substantially reduce traffic accidents.
Unanswered questions include whether technological progress -- seen in Google cars and Advanced Drivers Assistance Systems (ADAS) -- has already made the V2V mandate irrelevant, or whether the V2V initiative is destined to become a safety necessity for all cars, including every economy car. The great divide is between a “leave-it-to-the-market-force” approach, and a belief that the government should take action for the greater good.
DOT said in its announcement that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), currently finalizing its analysis of data gathered as part of its year-long pilot program, “will publish a research report on V2V communication technology for public comment in the coming weeks.” NHTSA will then begin working on “a regulatory proposal that would require V2V devices in new vehicles in a future year,” consistent with applicable legal requirements, Executive Orders, and guidance, according to the agency.
DOT also laid out its own research results indicating that safety applications using V2V technology “can address a large majority of crashes involving two or more motor vehicles.”
The announcement said:
With safety data such as speed and location flowing from nearby vehicles, vehicles can identify risks and provide drivers with warnings to avoid other vehicles in common crash types such as rear-end, lane change, and intersection crashes. These safety applications have been demonstrated with everyday drivers under both real-world and controlled test conditions.
There are a few clear advantages in embracing V2V.
When asked about the blessings of V2V beyond the functions of sensors currently integrated into ADAS, Drue Freeman, senior vice president, NXP Semiconductors, made it clear: “Current ADAS sensors are all line-of-sight. They cannot see through objects or around corners.” In other words, he explained, “V2V effectively gives the car virtual ‘x-ray vision,’ ” by providing critical information about what is happening “around blind-intersections, around corners on winding roads, or even several vehicles ahead on the road when there may be high profile vehicles like trucks in between.”
Roger Lanctot, associate director at Strategy Analytics, isn’t so sure. He pointed out, “It is important to remember that the Google car poses the possibility of saving lives without any connectivity at all, purely via on-board sensors.”
Of course, current Google cars have limitations -- especially in terms of cost. Lanctot, however, maintained that the cost is “plunging and the capabilities are expanding without any mandated hardware or software or infrastructure.”
Industry skeptics’ ambivalence toward V2V largely stems from the timing of its potential implementation. For any government mandate, the regulatory process is time-consuming.
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