Ann Arbor Plays Role in New Federal Vehicle Connection Plan

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Auto manufacturers, suppliers, and other trade associations announced Monday their support of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s plan to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for light vehicles.

“Through the auto industry’s research partnership with NHTSA, we’ve already seen the promise connected car technology holds to significantly reduce automobile crash fatalities and injuries,” says Michael J. Stanton, president and CEO of the Association of Global Automakers. “We look forward to continuing to work with NHTSA and other stakeholders to ensure V2V technology becomes successful in the marketplace.”

In the coming weeks, NHSTA will publish a report based on data gathered through the Safety Pilot “model deployment” in Ann Arbor, where nearly 3,000 vehicles were deployed in the largest-ever road test of V2V technology. From there, the administration will begin working on a regulatory proposal that would require V2V devices in new vehicles in the future.

With safety data such as speed and location flowing from nearby vehicles, on-board sensors can identify risks and provide drivers with warnings to avoid other vehicles in rear-end, lane change, and intersection crashes. Safety applications currently being developed provide warnings to drivers so that they can prevent imminent collisions, but do not automatically operate vehicle systems such as braking or steering.

“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,” says David Friedman, acting administrator of NHTSA.

While the Association of Global Automakers supports NHSTA’s decision to move forward with connected car technology, it expresses unease regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s exploration into opening the wireless frequency spectrum that supports V2V systems to unlicensed Wi-Fi devices.

“We’re concerned that opening up the 5.9 GHz frequency band to other wireless users could cause harmful interference and affect the integrity of the V2V safety communications,” Stanton says. “Communication delays of even thousandths of a single second matter when dealing with auto and highway safety. That’s why we are working with the Wi-Fi industry to find out if this spectrum can safely be shared.”

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