Feds unveil rule requiring cars to ‘talk’ to each other

Feds unveil rule requiring cars to ‘talk’ to each other
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The Obama administration released a long-awaited rule on Tuesday requiring all new vehicles to have communication technology that allows them to “talk” to each another, which officials say could prevent tens of thousands of crashes each year.
   
The proposal calls for all new light-duty cars and trucks to eventually be equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology, a safety system that enables cars to send wireless signals to each other, anticipate each other’s moves and thus avoid crashes.

The rule would require 100 percent of new vehicle fleets to have V2V technology within four years of the final rule’s enactment. The proposal will be open for public comment for 90 days.

“You need the whole system to work to be able to get the full benefits,” Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, said during a press call on Tuesday.

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The connected vehicle rule builds on previous work by the outgoing administration to accelerate the deployment of innovative safety technology. The Department of Transportation released the first-ever federal guidelines for driverless cars in September.

“We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony FoxxAnthony Renard FoxxWeek ahead in tech: Lawmakers turn focus to self-driving cars Six contenders to be Uber's new CEO Obama’s Transportation chief given Super Bowl tickets by Hollywood studio exec MORE. “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.”
 
Officials say V2V has the potential to mitigate 80 percent of non-impaired crashes and can interact with other crash avoidance systems, like automatic braking.
 
V2V uses dedicated short-range radio communications to exchange messages about a car’s speed, direction and location. The system uses that information from other vehicles to identify potentials risks and warn its driver.

Drivers would be able to turn off the warnings, but not the broadcasts themselves, Foxx said.

 

A pair of Democratic senators called on the agency to ensure that vehicles have “robust” cybersecurity and privacy protections in place before automakers deploy V2V.

“While these new technologies have the potential to save lives, security and privacy cannot be an afterthought in this new era of connected cars,” Sens. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack Dems propose data security bill after Equifax hack MORE (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement. “If hackers access a vehicle’s systems, privacy could be compromised, the safety of the vehicle could be put at risk and disaster could ensue.”

Rosekind emphasized that steps would be taken to safeguard against bad actors seeking to hack the V2V system, which has been a top concern as cars become increasingly connected.

The Federal Highway Administration plans to issue separate guidance for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure communications, which allow vehicles to talk to traffic lights, stop signs and work zones.

“It is extremely disappointing to see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration try to push through its highly controversial proposed vehicle-to-vehicle communications mandate in the final weeks of the Obama administration,” said Marc Scribner, research fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. "Hypothetical safety benefits of the mandate will be trivial for the next 15 years, at which point far superior automated vehicle technology may be deployed to consumers."

Foxx brushed aside concerns about whether the incoming administration would scrap any of the proposed safety regulations that have already been put forward by the DOT.

“This rule is something that has been contemplated for years,” Foxx said. “I can’t speak for next administration, but I can say from a safety perspective, this is a no-brainer.”