By on February 4, 2014


U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told Automotive News that U.S. regulators will soon begin working on telematics regulations that will require new cars and light trucks sold in the United States to be equipped with systems for vehicle to vehicle communications. The impetus is safety, as the telematic systems can be integrated with semi-autonomous crash avoidance systems.

Foxx didn’t set a date when the mandate would become effective, but he made it clear that he supports the technology, calling it a “moon shot” and saying that it could prevent 70 to 80 percent of crashes involving drivers that are not impaired.

“Keeping drivers safe is the most important advantage of V2V, but it’s just one of many,” Foxx said. “V2V can also help reduce congestion and save fuel. The potential of this technology is absolutely enormous.”

Car companies like GM, Toyota and VW, have been working together, along with government regulators and engineers for more than a decade on standards for what some have called “the internet of cars” or “connected cars”.

That connection would take place over a dedicated wireless wireless frequency called Dedicated Short-Range Communications, or DSRC, which would be separate from the current 3G and 4G cellular networks that currently allow Internet-based services in your car.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a lobbying group, was reserved in its reaction. A spokesperson for the Alliance told AN that it recognizes the benefits of DSRC technology, but that there are issues that need to be resolved and that the organization’s members prefer a voluntary standard to a mandate.

“DSRC radios may play a larger role in future road safety, but many pieces of a large puzzle still need to fit together,” the AAM said in a statement. “We need to address security and privacy, along with consumer acceptance, affordability, achieving the critical mass to enable the ‘network effect’ and establishment of the necessary legal and regulatory framework.”

Car companies are starting to roll out connected cars in Europe, with the first vehicles hitting the road sometime next year. London-based consultancy ABI Research predicted last year that global acceptance of the technology in new vehicles will grow from 10 percent in 2018 to 70 percent by 2027.

DSRC works much like the Wi-fi used by personal computers and other electronic devices, and can handle data from the cameras and sensors that have proliferated in today’s cars. Vehicles equipped with DRSC chips would receive and process signals from nearby DRSC-enabled cars to learn their location, direction and speed. If a driver does not react to an impending collision, the car could then sound a warning or apply the brakes automatically to prevent an accident.

Regulators say that the system could also process signals from smartphones and other devices carried by pedestrians, cyclists and drivers of older cars. Aftermarket transmitters for retrofitting are also anticipated, though there is no word yet on making them mandatory on all vehicles, not just a new factory standard on new cars.

A$25 million study conducted on the streets of Ann Arbor, Michigan proved that telematics products from different vehicle manufacturers and suppliers will communicate with one another. The government agency said that a published report will be released for public comment in the next few weeks.

The move to embrace DSRC technology is part of a shift in strategy by regulators from passive safety systems to more active technologies. As cars and light trucks have gotten safer, finding areas to improve accident survival rates has become harder.

“While the auto industry has made great strides to reduce fatalities and injuries after a crash,” said Scott Belcher, president of the Intelligent Transportation Society of America, “the next giant leap is to enable real-time communication between vehicles and with the world around them so crashes can be avoided in the first place.”

Currently automakers use a differing variety of warning sounds and symbols in their accident avoidance systems. Mercedes-Benz has flashing lights, General Motors has patented a vibrating seat that warns drivers, and Ford uses a haptic steering wheel. The government could implement standardizing regulations on those warnings.

Privacy advocates have concerns because regulators and automakers are also thinking of other ways that DSRC could be used for purposes besides safety. Richard Bishop, who led the DOT’s vehicle automation program in the 1990s, says that the new wireless technology could be used could be used to collect tolls, or to tax drivers based on the number of miles they travel. As the use of hybrids and EVs grows, governments are looking to alternatives to taxes on gasoline and diesel.

In addition to privacy as related to civil liberties and the government possibly tracking motorists’ movements, DSRC creates a new opportunities for hackers and identity thieves.

U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., asked, in a May 2013 hearing whether wireless communications could potentially allow “some 14-year-old in Indonesia” to “shut your car down.”

Considering that the European Union is indeed considering mandating equipment that would let police and other authorities to disable your car by remote control, the senator’s concerns may not be hyperbolic, though civil libertarians might be more concerned about potential abuse by government agents than by hackers in Indonesia.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

49 Comments on “U.S. DoT To Mandate Vehicle to Vehicle Telematics for Crash Avoidance, Sparking Privacy Concerns...”

  • avatar

    How is this technology better than the already existing radar system that automatically hits the brakes when you are too close to another vehicle? Seems to me we would be better off implementing versions of that technology, because it would work with all vehicles, not just new ones equipped with the new system.

    No matter what we do, it’s going to take decades plus to get all non-telematics cars off the road, if it ever happens. So if drivers depend on this kind of system, it’s inevitably going to let them down, with catastrophic results.


    • 0 avatar

      You beat me to it.

      Radar/ultrasonic avoidance with automatic braking is far better than vehicle-to-vehicle communication. Older vehicles won’t have transmitters, but a vehicle with advanced collision avoidance will recognize older vehicles, new vehicles, pedestrians and other inert obstacles.

      I LOVE MINE.

      If I’m not paying enough attention to someone slowing down in front of me, I get a loud beep warning to slow/stop.

    • 0 avatar
      Sam Hell Jr

      It’s ALMOST as though this initiative’s priory isn’t actually safety.

    • 0 avatar

      “How is this technology better than the already existing radar system”

      It would eventually eliminate the need for stop signs and lights as the computer would sequence the cars and you’d just sail through.

      • 0 avatar

        It would take much more than vehicle-to-vehicle communications to eliminate stop signs and lights. One thing it could do is to help control green lights. But eliminate them – I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Think about it – how would this work in a manual transmission car? You’re in sixth gear at the low end of it’s rpm range and the system throttles you back suddenly. Then there’s the security issue that has to be dealt with.

        I’ve already been through this in the aviation world as a co-designer of an airport ground collision avoidance system. I’m not just some Luddite.

      • 0 avatar

        That would force pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, dogs, squirrels, and pigeons to adopt the technology

    • 0 avatar

      It could detect cars coming from directions other than directly in front of you. For example, someone about to go through a stop sign or red light perpindicular to you. Rader may not detect them until they’re actually in front of you and it’s too late.

      • 0 avatar

        Radar can be used this way as well, but there would be blind spots like buildings, but will the intercar wifi have the same issues? Will it be able to transmit through the brick corner store? Will it pick up that 1965/1985/1995 Mustang full of teens? Radar could. I can see radar working well in rural areas, don’t see anything working well in places like LA or NYC.

  • avatar

    Amazingly stupid idea. Good time to be a hacker though. Imagine all the fun you could have with these life size remote control cars.

    • 0 avatar

      Matt, ever see the original Italian Job? They engineer a traffic jam by hacking the traffic control to pull off a gold heist. This will be fun. Let’s see, the left lane bandit blocking me – I’ll just move into the center lane while I activate his brakes. And the speed cameras that will inevitably be hooked into this system. They won’t even see me. Yes, this is a good thing.

  • avatar

    Incoherent Luddite ranting in 3…2…1…

  • avatar

    I have no problem with this technology as long as there is fast, cheap, and simple way to DISABLE the damn technology PERMANENTLY in my car.

    • 0 avatar

      It can be good and bad. If there’s a good way to make the data anonymous and it’s used as a driver assistance device, it can be good. Especially if I can use it to know where the cops are (cause, you never know when you might need to find them to report a crime ;^)) But, if it’s trackable and the naive polyanna technology cheerleaders convince people it’s safe enough to use it in order to catch up on the latest cute cat video on youtube, it’s a bad thing.

      • 0 avatar

        Data is only as anonymous as the subpoena demanding that it be turned over.

        And don’t worry about the cops – as soon as the system alerts them to you doing 15 over the limit, they’ll come find you.

  • avatar

    I keep hearing Morpheus asking, “What is SAFE? How do you define SAFE?”

    Anyone who invokes The Children or Safety as justification for their new law is admitting that they’re resorting to emotional manipulation because they can’t make a rational argument for their totalitarian intent.

    I’ve come to appreciate the view the Amish regard technology with.

    Contrary to popular belief, they’re not actually technophobes. Their view is to evaluate technology to ensure that it doesn’t damage their society.

    It doesn’t make them Luddites, it means that they have larger concerns than simply the having latest Big Noise or Shiny Thing.

    We should do that. Instead of simply grabbing hold over every shiny new trinket, we should ask if said new technology is actually a GOOD IDEA.

    Vehicle telematics are a threat to personal freedom, and that puts them beyond the pale because freedom is more important that safety.

    Whatever the hell SAFETY is.

  • avatar

    How does it affect people that know how to drive, I can take a vehicle over 80 inches wide and drive between two cars with barely 3 inches on each side without flinching

    Would it slow me down? Steer me into the second vehicle?

    • 0 avatar

      Depends on whether or not I’m behind you with a laptop.

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking along these lines. Pulling up to a stop light in the center lane, and I’m too close to one car on either side. Normally it’d be fine, but the system detects a proximity violation, and hits my brakes so I don’t hit the cars – causing me to be rear-ended by the car behind which was going too fast, or has bad brake discs.

      And who goes through and sets up the necessary brake force application on all these different vehicles, so they don’t collide? Are they going to come around and test my 1989 New Yorker Salon so they know how crappy the brakes are?

  • avatar

    There are two tech implementations that should be studied to see the likely pitfalls, ADS-B and SRM.

    ADS-B was, about a decade ago, a system developed to do this sort of thing with aircraft. The tech is now long in the tooth, but will be required to fly in the national airspace after 2020. The regs ensured that the needs and wants of the FAA (cost reduction) and the avionics industry (cost of about 10k for a typical 50k plane) and flight services (no competition) were met while aircraft owners, especially low end flyers who are typically middle class retired guys, got almost zero value. The low end guys were supposed to get free weather datai nto their planes that would have been a net cost to the FAA of about zero? We can all see how that happened. It will still add limited value to safety.

    SRM or SFM (Sales Force Managment) is a subset of CRM that many companies implemented over the last couple decades. I sold the software, used the software, and at other times sold hardware and services to help companies implement the software. Some companies got wonderful results in improved sales and customer satisfaction. Many got a useful database with some improved efficiency in processes. Most, at least on the first try, got a counter productive pile of crap that stunk up the whole operation from head to toe. They often didn’t realize it for years or ever though. How did this happen? During implementation, all the needs and wants of management were met while the features for the sales people were ignored or even not implemented to save costs. The result was wasting the time of the sales people (which isn’t ever accounted for), false data build up in the database (salespeople found it easier to make up stuff to fulfill data input requirements) and reduced sales. The most productive sales people would often leave.

    I suspect these vehicle telematics to end up being big on government and corporate wants and mediocre on driver wants. Many people will likely commit vehicular suicide as a response to the likely irritating interface and take others along with them to the other side. Of course, the net loss of life will be positive. Meanwhile, at least at first, the corporations will be protected from drastic losses in the resulting sales of for crash repairs by new tricks moving the pain to smaller companies.

    All of this will be proceeded by people saying my cynicism is further proof of my paranoia that government and big business are out to get me and my car and that I am just full of hate.

    Well, ignore me if you want. That won’t change the results. The cake is a lie!

  • avatar

    What a fantastically easy way to track the movement and whereabouts of people. I see a receiving station on every street corner recording all the people and vehicles that come by. Maybe I am paranoid, but I think with all the electronics we are moving closer and closer to big brother and doing it willingly in the name of safety and convenience. I dont particularly like the black boxes in new cars. I suppose it could vindicate you in a vehilce accident if you were not at fault, but more likely a way to void warranties, etc.

  • avatar

    Accusations of Luddite tendencies are aimed at reasonable skeptics in some of the comments. Luddites protested technology that was working too well and threatening their livelihoods. Where is the analogous V2V system? Did the pilot program allow white hat hackers to try and take it down? Can it be scaled up? (Ann Arbor – gimme a break – try NYC, DC or Boston for a real test.)
    Not every shiny top-down idea can be successfully implemented. The fact that the US government is involved is a major cause for concern. Identity theft E-file tax fraud cases are now at a rate of one million plus per year (WSJ and others). Parts of the ACA software may have been written by Belarus hackers. (In fairness, most of that is seemingly written by large groups of chimps.) Do we really want the government to oversee a system specification that if hacked could actively kill us?
    Collectively, government suffers from the Dunning-Kruger effect – it is too stupid to be able to assess how stupid it is. Let the manufacturers compete for a while and assess what really works and what falls short. That also gives us time to debate privacy issues as well.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m a little surprised you didn’t mention the Obamacare exchange debut. That seems directly analogous to telematics – except telematics systems create even more data, in real time. I’d be shocked if the whole thing didn’t crash and burn spectacularly.


  • avatar

    “i am sorry, the V2V has determined there are already too many vehicles using the roads in this area. Your access is denied.”

  • avatar

    government overreach is always sold as 1) public safety or 2) for the children

  • avatar

    “the new wireless technology could be used could be used to collect tolls, or to tax drivers”

    Ah, there it is! The guarantee that this system will go into effect. Next you’ll have to give up your credit card info when you register your car, so they can automatically deduct the fines when a camera catches you.

    • 0 avatar

      The per-mile charge will likely go along with it. Lumped in with your traffic violations bill, on your monthly statement from ____(state) DOT. Reduction in CO2 emissions at a cost of the rest of the economy. It’ll work out fine.

  • avatar

    Oklahoma has at least one forward thinker ready to take full advantage of this.

    • 0 avatar

      My greatest fear about this technology is organized crime, i.e. the crooks that operate red light cameras and profit from them while selling local governments on their safety (even though they make intersections more dangerous).

      We need to see legislation AGAINST the type of crock that Oklahoma is trying to pass.

  • avatar

    If ultrasonic and radar based distance sensors didn’t exist, then the safety argument for DSRC would make sense.

    Seeing as that they do exist (and have already been implemented at low cost) though, DSRC is obviously not getting put in to make anyone safer.

    It’s like telling football players that they need GPS-tracked sensors in their heads to protect them by recording any potential concussions, when a removable accelerometer in their helmets could do the job at a fraction of the cost.

  • avatar

    And this is why I’ll keep my 1987 Chevrolet Scottsdale. Thanks, but I’ll have to pass.

  • avatar

    “Your vehicle is being disabled. We have detected unauthorized activity in your vehicle. Please remain calm and place your hands in clear view. A peace officer will be by shortly to reactivate your vehicle once the subversive is in custody.”

    yeah…. not a far leap though.

  • avatar

    Privacy? Since when have we had that, and how long has it been since anyone from the oval office on down honestly gave a ***t?

  • avatar

    You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

  • avatar

    “DSRC works much like the Wi-fi used by personal computers and other electronic devices,”

    EMI is your friend.

  • avatar

    You may not be able to communicate with an old car but at least it will always be old. In the last decade or so, about the average lifespan of a car, we have had 1G, GSM, 2G, GPRS, Edge, 3G, CDMA, WiFi, 4G, NFC, Bluetooth. Few of these can communicate with each other and some are long gone. New technologies are around the corner. Will this DSRC be another flash in the pan? Who will mandate that hardware and software upgrades are installed on older vehicles?
    The autonomous solution has many advantages over networked solutions that require 100% compliance.

  • avatar

    I have some friends who hack…

    (Pictures world in a few years).

    *One of my friends is driving home from school in a snow storm without us.*

    *My Friend Next to Me: (Atum), why is he driving off without us?

    *Pulls out tablet and hacks database.*

    *Friend’s car stops on an icy hill, and it rolls down.*

  • avatar

    I am very much into remote control cars but I don’t like the idea of having real/actual size cars running around remotely controlled by another person other than me. How about if the other car is a very old model that doesn’t quite respond well to the remote control Vehicle to Vehicle Telematics system?

Read all comments

Recent Comments

  • Art Vandelay: Sony makes great phones. They don’t have a carrier deal so they aren’t huge in the US....
  • golden2husky: Fleet use is probably best suited to deal with the shortcomings of recharge times – they...
  • ToolGuy: I am unreasonable and irresponsible. My Porter-Cable 737 corded “Tiger Saw” reciprocating saw...
  • Eaststand: until electric vehicles offer an advantage to IC, no ones buying these novelties en masse. There has to be...
  • loopy55: Here in San Diego the US has its own “border” just before the entry into Mexico. This has license plate...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber