Cars that speak to one another? Tech on the way

Daily News Article   —   Posted on February 5, 2014

(from Russia’s RT .com) – Obama administration officials said Monday that, to improve safety, they will soon propose requiring automakers to equip all new cars and light trucks with technology that allows vehicles to communicate with each other. Yet privacy concerns, among others, must be resolved.


In August 2012 the DOT and NHTSA conducted a $25 million V2V test with 3,000 vehicles in Michigan.

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) feedback would occur over a special wireless frequency called Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC), allowing a vehicle to consistently transmit its location, heading, speed and other information. In turn, that vehicle would receive the same data from other vehicles with the aim of avoiding impending collisions. Some systems may allow operators to choose whether to allow the vehicle to automatically brake in the event of an impending accident.

US regulators will soon begin constructing guidelines for such technology, US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said Monday at a press conference at the Department of Transportation’s headquarters. …

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has worked with automakers over the past decade on DRSC technology, officials said. Safety administration head David Friedman emphasized that with DRSC, the government’s top focus regarding road safety will be preventing accidents rather than just working to make car collisions survivable. The federal agency says DRSC could prevent 70 to 80 percent of crashes that do not involve impaired drivers or mechanical failure.

Officials made clear, though, that it will be at least several years before automakers would have to put the technology in vehicles. The safety administration plans to offer a report this month on its research thus far, then it will allow the public and vehicle manufacturers to comment for the following 90 days.

While not adhering to a target date for the mandate, Foxx said he hopes to have a regulatory proposal by the end of President Barack Obama’s current term. For now, the announcement works to “send a strong signal to the (automotive industry) that we believe the wave of the future is vehicle-to-vehicle technology,” Foxx said.

Yet many obstacles and concerns remain despite the lofty talk of the benefits that lie ahead for DRSC’s use. Safety benefits, for instance, will remain unrealized until a critical mass of vehicles on the road use the technology [i.e. the government will not know whether the technology has created any safety benefits until the majority of vehicles have the DSCR technology installed], which could take several years. Some benefits could be seen with just 7 to 10 percent of vehicles containing the technology, according to a spokesman for the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, the AP reported.

Top lobbying organization for automakers, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said that while DRSC will likely have many benefits, the group would prefer a voluntary agreement instead of a government mandate.

“DSRC radios may play a larger role in future road safety, but many pieces of a large puzzle still need to fit together,” Gloria Bergquist, a spokeswoman for the Alliance, said in a statement. “We need to address security and privacy, along with consumer acceptance, affordability, achieving the critical mass to enable the ‘network effect’ and establishment of the necessary legal and regulatory framework.” [NOTE: Federal officials said that the data that would be broadcast would not identify the sender, other than by location, and would not be recorded.] 

Indeed, privacy and security issues hang in the balance. For an existing precedent, global positioning systems (GPS) – which have existed in vehicles for years now but are expanding rapidly as more smart technology proliferates – already allow automakers access an array of personal data. Earlier this month, Ford executive Jim Farley made waves when he said at a trade show, “We know everyone who breaks the law, [and[ we know when you’re doing it.” He added, “We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing,” underscoring how vulnerable vehicle users and owners already are. He subsequently offered a clarification of the remarks. “We do not track our customers in their cars without their approval or their consent,” he said. …

Manufacturers are already working to put their own unique stamp on alert systems outside of normal auditory cues and flashing-light symbols. General Motors, for example, has a patent on a vibrating seat to warn drivers of danger; while Ford uses a vibrating steering wheel.

Proponents of wireless DRSC say it could also be used to collect tolls, or to tax drivers depending on the number of miles driven, as opposed to gasoline or diesel taxes.

“It will change driving as we know it over time,” said Scott Belcher, president and CEO of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITSA), according to AP. “Over time, we’ll see a reduction in crashes. Automobile makers will rethink how they design and construct cars because they will no longer be constructing cars to survive a crash, but building them to avoid a crash.”

Government officials did not estimate how much DRSC technology would increase the price of a new vehicle, but the ITSA believes it would cost around US$100 to $200 per car.

Reprinted here for educational purposes only.  May not be reproduced on other websites without permission from Russia’s RT .com.


How many Americans know this?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is an agency of the federal government. The safety administration plans to offer a report this month on its research thus far, then it will allow the public and vehicle manufacturers to comment for the following 90 days.  A government agency generally allows a time of public comment before implementing new regulations. 

Public comment explained:  Once a proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, a public comment period begins, allowing the public to submit written comments to the agency. Most agencies are required to respond to every issue raised in the comments. Depending on the complexity of the rule, comment periods may last for 30 to even 180 days.

Public comment is a specific term of art used by various government agencies in the United States, a constitutional democratic republic, in several circumstances. It is sometimes called "vox populi". Generally these circumstances are open public meetings of government bodies which set aside time for oral public comments, or comments, usually upon documents. Such documents may either be reports such as Draft Environmental Impact Reports (DEIR's) or new regulations. There is typically a notice which is posted on the web and mailed to more or less ad hoc lists of interested parties known to the government agencies. If there is to be a change of regulations, there will be a formal notice of proposed rulemaking.

The basis for public comment is found in general political theory of constitutional democracy as originated during and after the French Enlightenment, particularly by Rousseau. This basis was elaborated in the American Revolution, and various thinkers such as Franklin, Jefferson and Thomas Paine are associated with the rejection of tyrannical, closed government decision making in favor of open government. The tradition of the New England Town Hall is believed to be rooted in this early American movement, and the distillation of formal public comment in official proceedings is a direct application of this format in the workings of public administration itself. (from wikipedia)