Proposed DOT rule seeks to boost connected vehicle technology

view of a connected cityscape at night

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced a proposed rule aimed at encouraging the use of connected vehicle technologies in all new light vehicles in the US.

The DOT believes that vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology has the potential to improve road safety significantly.

By allowing vehicles to ‘talk’ to each other, V2V will enable new crash-avoidance applications that could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year, says the Department.

US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said: “We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives. 

“This long promised V2V rule is the next step in that progression. Once deployed, V2V will provide 360-degree situational awareness on the road and will help us enhance vehicle safety.”

Importantly, the DOT’s proposed rule would require V2V devices to speak a common ‘language’ using standardised messaging.

This standardisation will help to future-proof the technology and maximise its potential safety benefits by ensuring that vehicles from different manufacturers are able to communicate with each other.

“Advanced vehicle technologies may well prove to be the silver bullet in saving lives on our roadways,” said Mark Rosekind, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

“V2V and automated vehicle technologies each hold great potential to make our roads safer, and when combined, their potential is untold.”

The DOT also confirmed that it plans to issue guidance soon on vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications – another technology likely to be embraced by autonomous vehicles.

V2I communications allow vehicles to communicate with surrounding road infrastructure such as traffic signals, helping to reduce congestion and improve safety.

According to NTHSA’s estimates, 80% of non-impaired crashes, such as those occurring at intersections or while changing lanes, could be eliminated or made less severe by safety applications enabled by V2V and V2I communications.

The potential of V2I communications was demonstrated recently with Audi’s launch of its Traffic Light Information service. The tool uses V2I technology to monitor traffic light systems and provide drivers with a dashboard countdown showing when their light will turn green.

How does V2V technology work?

V2V communications can detect developing threat situations hundreds of yards away, and often in situations in which the driver and on-board sensors alone cannot detect the threat.
— US Department of Transportation briefing on connected vehicle technology

Using dedicated short range communications, V2V devices can transmit information on their location, direction and speed to nearby vehicles.

This data can be updated and shared with nearby cars up to 10 times a second, allowing vehicles equipped with V2V technology to identify risks and provide warnings to help drivers avoid crashes.

The technology is likely to prove particularly useful in circumstances where it can identify a potential danger that a human driver might not spot.

“V2V communications can detect developing threat situations hundreds of yards away, and often in situations in which the driver and on-board sensors alone cannot detect the threat,” said the DOT.

Addressing potential privacy concerns, the DOT stressed that privacy will be protected in V2V transmissions. It said that its proposed rule would require ‘extensive privacy and security controls in any V2V devices’.