The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced that it will begin taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for light vehicles. The technology would improve safety by allowing vehicles to “talk” to each other and ultimately avoid many crashes altogether by exchanging basic safety data, such as speed and position, ten times per second, according to the NHTSA.
“Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we’ve already seen with safety belts and air bags,” said Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation secretary. “By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry.”
DOT research indicates that safety applications using V2V technology can address a large majority of crashes involving two or more motor vehicles. 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, according to the NHTSA.
The safety applications currently being developed provide warnings to drivers so that they can prevent imminent collisions, but do not automatically operate any vehicle systems, such as braking or steering. NHTSA is also considering future actions on active safety technologies that rely on on-board sensors, which are eventually expected to blend with the V2V technology. In addition to enhancing safety, these future applications and technologies could help drivers to conserve fuel and save time, according to an Interim Statement of Policy issued by the NHTSA last year to explain its approach to the various innovations.
V2V technology does not involve exchanging or recording personal information or tracking vehicle movements. The information sent between vehicles does not identify those vehicles, but merely contains basic safety data. The system as contemplated contains several layers of security and privacy protection to ensure that vehicles can rely on messages sent from other vehicles and that a vehicle or group of vehicles would be identifiable through defined procedures only if there is a need to fix a safety problem, according to the NHTSA.
“V2V crash avoidance technology has game-changing potential to significantly reduce the number of crashes, injuries and deaths on our nation’s roads,” said David Friedman, NHTSA acting administrator. “Decades from now, it’s likely we’ll look back at this time period as one in which the historical arc of transportation safety considerably changed for the better, similar to the introduction of standards for seat belts, airbags, and electronic stability control technology.”
In 2012, DOT launched the Safety Pilot “model deployment” in Ann Arbor, Mich., where nearly 3,000 vehicles were deployed in the largest-ever road test of V2V technology, according to the NHTSA. In driver clinics conducted by the department prior to the model deployment, the technology showed high favorability ratings and levels of customer acceptance. Participants indicated they would like to have V2V safety features on their personal vehicle.
NHTSA is currently finalizing its analysis of the data gathered as part of its year-long pilot program and will publish a research report on V2V communication technology for public comment in the coming weeks. The report will include analysis of the department’s research findings in several key areas including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits. NHTSA will then begin working on a regulatory proposal that would require V2V devices in new vehicles in a future year, according to the NHTSA.
“The decision to move forward comes after years of dedicated research into the overwhelming safety benefits provided by a connected vehicle environment,” said Greg Winfree, assistant secretary for research and technology.
V2V communications can provide the vehicle and driver with 360-degree situational awareness to address additional crash situations, including those, for example, in which a driver needs to decide if it is safe to pass on a two-lane road (potential head-on collision), make a left turn across the path of oncoming traffic, or in which a vehicle approaching at an intersection appears to be on a collision course. In those situations, V2V communications can detect threats hundreds of yards from other vehicles that cannot be seen, often in situations in which on-board sensors alone cannot detect the threat, according to the administration.
For more information, visit http://icsw.nhtsa.gov/safercar/ConnectedVehicles/.
Photo courtesy of the DOT.