The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that it’s finally ready to consider regulations that might require “light vehicles” to communicate with each other about their speed, direction of travel, and location in order to prevent collisions. The technology, called vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) could by some government estimates reduce traffic fatalities by as much as 80 percent if it’s ever fully rolled out.
The emerging V2V standard, which Ars recently looked at in depth, is based on a broadcast networking protocol similar to those used by Wi-Fi networks, GPS geolocation technology, and in-car sensors that detect rate of turn, braking, and other movement data. V2V-equipped cars continuously broadcast information in what’s sort of a digital version of the swimming pool game Marco Polo, warning drivers if another vehicle’s broadcasts show a risk of a collision.
V2V technology comes with a number of technical and policy challenges that could blunt any major push to mandate it too quickly or broadly. Privacy, squabbles over radio spectrum, and the cost of the vast scale of the infrastructure (ensuring the security of the system and integrating it with highway infrastructure) are among the major pain points that need to be addressed, or at least considered, before a regulation can be put into effect.