As you should know from nosing around this website is that I used to run a hybrid and electric car site, obviously called the Hybrid and Electric Car News. That I did this for 8 years doesn’t make me an expert. But it doesn’t leave me without some well-informed opinion either.
Anyway, today’s shiny object comes from Phys.org, on coming government regulation requiring all cars to be equipped with wireless V2V (vehicle to vehicle) communications systems:
All new cars and light trucks would be able to talk wirelessly with each other, with traffic lights and with other roadway infrastructure under a rule the Transportation Department proposed Tuesday. Officials say the technology holds the potential to dramatically reduce traffic deaths and transform driving.
Vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or V2V, enables cars to transmit their locations, speed, direction and other information ten times per second. That lets cars detect, for example, when another vehicle is about to run a red light, is braking hard, changing lanes or coming around a blind turn in time for a driver or automated safety systems to prevent a crash.
Keep in mind V2V applies to ALL vehicles, not just those semi or fully autonomous (self-driving). So that careening low-end Nissan Versa will be able to talk to that Merc S550 in it’s path and tell it to slow down, because the Versa driver is suffering from class rage this morning.
What is even better is that these guidelines are being dovetailed with V2I (vehicle to infrastructure) communications, meaning that the intersection both vehicles are approaching could literally be the adult, issuing an electronic command slowing both vehicles down.
The Federal Highway Administration plans to separately issue guidance to help transportation planners integrate two-way wireless technology into roadway infrastructure such as traffic lights, stop signs and work zones. Cars could communicate information on road conditions to the infrastructure, which could then be passed along to other vehicles as they come along. Traffic lights would know when to stay green to avoid unnecessary waiting and reduce congestion.
Before I get into the 5 ways this will revolutionize driving let me say the second thing that might pop into your mind is control. If the system works well, why not mandate all vehicles be controlled by sensors-speed, turning, everything? This thinking is not new.
Two things. Autonomous and semi-autonomous cars will be able to navigate themselves within the parameters set by regulators and manufacturers. So there’s no need to control these cars. Second, when it comes to the hundreds of millions of drivers that don’t own self-driving cars I say if elected officials want to stay in office, they will resist the urge to implement something as “Red Barchetta” as this.
Back to the point. How can V2V revolutionize driving? Let’s start with these 5 ways:
1. V2V will reduce the opportunity for collisions
Building on my earlier example, V2V means the Versa and the Merc will communicate with each other, as well as all cars within a 1000-yard radius (not hampered by line-of-sight). They will broadcast speed, direction, location, drift, and umpteen other pieces of data in real time. Onboard computers will do their crunching in order to make sure there is no accident by telling all vehicles that could be involved to slow, stop, or take corrective action. I would imagine the slow or stop command could be triggered regardless of driver input.
2. The technology will force insurers to change the amount and way you pay for car insurance
If the Versa is precluded from hitting the Merc, and this scenario is repeated hundreds of thousands of times a day, 7 days a week; then my car insurance premiums better damn well go down. This will be a problem for insurers at first, because driving risk is based on observed behavior. A safer national fleet means financial uncertainly for an industry that makes money on observed behavior. If behavior changes, then the risk profiles have to be blown up and rebuilt. Companies won’t be able to charge the family of a new driver (or elderly, for that matter) as they do now.
Perhaps you’ll pay for insurance on a per-mile basis; or a per-trip basis. Rest assured, you’ll still have to pay. But it will be difficult to for insurers to convince us that what we were paying before is what we must continue to pay under a system engineered to be safer.
3. In case of an incident, the system will clearly identify who is at fault. Period
A couple of years ago a young guy, Ivan, rear-ended me on a snowy Chicago street. We pulled to the curb, took pictures, exchanged information and went on our separate ways. I had a real insurance company. He had a fly-by-night P.O.S carrier. His carrier rejected the idea of paying, naturally. But here’s the reason: they said that since the pictures showed both cars at the curb, I was at fault. I started my car, put my foot on the brake, put the car in reverse and accelerated into the bumper of their client. Enough to total a 2003 Jaguar X-Type Estate. This is a scenario only Trump could come up with.
Clearly, V2V ends these kinds of shenanigans. Which could put a lot of the fly-by-night P.O.S carriers to of of business.
4. Cynically, V2V will make it easier to be a sloppy driver
If V2V will mandate cars actuate turn signals at the correct intervals, I will jump for joy. I think that would go a long way towards making driving safer. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us will begin to pay less attention because we will depend on the computer to save our ass.
5. V2V will pave the way to semi- and full-autonomous driving for reasons you don’t anticipate
V2V could be the tip of the spear that helps solve practical and heart-breaking automotive problems. It could affirm a person’s need for transportation, while providing for their human frailties or weaknesses.
If V2V makes it easier for senior drivers, how much more sense would it make to put them in a fully autonomous car? They get freedom, and the rest of us get a safer vehicle. Same for 16-year olds. Data taken from vehicles involved in repeated drunk and impaired driving incidents could lead to a court-order mandating the person own or rent an autonomous vehicle. They can get to work, and we don’t have to worry about their drunk asses on the road.
The coming rules have a 90-day public comment period, followed by an official 1-year implementation timeline. According to the article, half of new vehicles must have the technology within 2 years and the rest within 4. I would imagine we’d see aftermarket kits in stores and dealerships, potentially making full-fleet adoption quicker.
I’m all for it. You?