This blog comments on the current legislation that the U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has put before the White House to speed adoption of V2V Communications Standards.
To say the automotive industry is obsessed with connected vehicles is not an exaggeration. Autonomous and semi-autonomous discussions dominate industry events, and automotive leaders are working hard to establish standards and agreements for how this disruptive technology will evolve. In recent history, the industry has come together to propagate a safety-focused standard, automatic emergency braking (AEB), making it mandatory in all new automobiles by 2022. A recent blog post highlights the details of this agreement.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) supported the private industry-led auto-braking agreement, and is also behind another very important connected vehicle undertaking, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications. According to NHTSA publications, the federal agency has been researching V2V communication technology for more than a decade. In August, 2014, the agency issued an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) and a research report on the readiness of V2V technology for application in crash avoidance, with the intent to propose formal rulemaking by the end of 2015. The U.S. Government responded in 2015 that it wanted to speed up deployment of connected car technology, but to date no final ruling has been made.
Since then, most major automotive OEM’s, leading automotive suppliers, and industry groups that include Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have commented on the NHTSA’s notice and expressed their support for the government to create a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that requires V2V communication capabilities for light vehicles and also establishes minimum performance requirements for V2V devices and messages. The standard would establish the communication protocols and mandate that V2V capabilities become standard by a certain year (not yet established) for automotive OEMs.
There are two initial applications of V2V that the NHTSA is targeting, intersection collisions and left-turning crashes, which could eliminate up to 600,000 crashes, 270,000 injuries, and save 1,080 lives each year if applied to the full U.S. vehicle fleet, according to the NHTSA. The key to success is having enough vehicles on the road that contain the technology to “blanket” the roadway with the “eyes” that will prevent crashes. The NHTSA is particularly forceful on V2V communications because its range is nearly double that of current collision avoidance system sensors, and V2V has been demonstrated to allow BSMs to be transmitted around corners and “through” other vehicles. A BSM is Basic Safety Message, transmitted at 10 times/sec by each equipped vehicle, that includes position, speed, and heading.
Traditionally, regulations are not embraced by the manufacturers within a given industry because of their costs to implement and comply. However, in the case of V2V, automotive OEM’s and their suppliers are showing overwhelming support for an important reason: accelerating fleet penetration of the technology to make it viable. The IIHS estimates that without federal regulation, penetration of new technology like this can take more than 30 years, much like what happened when airbags were introduced in the 1980s or forward collision warning (FCW) was introduced in 2000. Automotive OEMs typically start rolling out advanced technology in their luxury models first, and often it is optional.
Making V2V communications mandatory may cut the time to reach 95% of U.S. vehicle penetration in half. This is imperative as we move to benefit from connected cars. And, while this initial proposed ruling focuses on two safety applications, there are numerous other applications for the technology, including the support of vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) applications that start to realize the vision for having connected cars interact with Smart City Streets.
Automotive OEM’s should continue their efforts to work both within their industry and with the U.S. and other country governments to ensure an accelerated adoption of standards for connected vehicles. And, government entities need to prioritize legislation that supports connected vehicle adoption. The sooner standards are established, the more quickly the automotive value chain can move to incorporate the technology into product platforms and deliver the benefits of connected vehicles to the population.