The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced it will start taking steps to implement vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications in light vehicles. The agency is finalizing its data collected from its year-long V2V pilot program, and, following publication and review of the study, the NHTSA will draft a proposal mandating V2V tech in new vehicles by a to-be-determined future year.
As we've reported in the past, V2V systems allow cars on the road to communicate with one another, sharing basic data like speed and location at a rate of 10 times per second. This constant awareness of other surrounding vehicles allows a V2V-connected car to sense a crash and warn the driver beforehand. NHTSA says the technology has the potential to help drivers avoid or mitigate 70 to 80 percent of crashes involving unimpaired drivers, which could help reduce the more-than-30,000 traffic deaths a year in the U.S.
Though V2V shares data with other cars, it doesn't exchange personal information or collect vehicle tracking info. The NHTSA says the data transmitted contains only basic safety information, and that there are several layers of security to protect privacy. The Department of Transportation (DOT) launched its Safety Pilot "model deployment" in Ann Arbor, Mich. in August 2012. That program outfitted nearly 3000 vehicles with V2V technology, and over the course of a year tested the various systems from different automakers to make sure they work well with each other.
A report on the study is being finalized for publication, which will detail technical feasibility, privacy and security, and estimates on costs and safety benefits. After the public has a chance to comment on the findings, the NHTSA will draft regulations requiring V2V tech in the future. It should be noted that the devices currently in development only provide warnings, and don’t automatically intervene with braking or steering input. That means fully autonomous cars aren't on the immediate horizon, though the NHTSA says it expects onboard sensors and active safety features to eventually blend with V2V tech.
No timeline has been given on when we can expect a proposal from NHTSA, but the agency sees the announcement of its intentions as a big first step. In a release, acting NHTSA Administrator David Friedman said, "Decades from now, it's likely we'll look back at this time period as one in which the historical arc of transportation safety changed for the better, similar to the introduction of standards for seat belts, airbags, and electronic stability control technology."