In 2011, the US Department of Transportation approached University of Minnesota Duluth’s Imran Hayee with a task: to utilize Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC) technology within automobiles. Teaming up with his graduate students, the professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and his crew set to work. Thus, V2V communication was born.
V2V, or vehicle-to-vehicle communication, utilizes wireless frequencies, allowing vehicles to send and retrieve detailed information from other automobiles on the road. “The information is obtained and then distributed to each vehicle,” explained Hayee shortly after its creation. “The future phases of this work will increase safety and minimize travel time for emergency vehicles who need to arrive on the scene quickly.”
When the software in the vehicle identifies a potential threat, it sends a combination of visual, tactile, and auditory alerts to the driver, warning him or her to take action in order to avoid a crash or hazard. V2V communication has the ability to “see” around corners and boasts an astounding 300-meter range, which exceeds the regular 48 feet most headlights reach at night. These features are life-saving. In 2016, there were 40,000 driving-related fatalities, a staggering 6 percent increase from 2015. With the invention of V2V, the Department of Transportation believes, these numbers could drop drastically.
In December of 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a mandate for the new technology. The Department of Transportation followed suit in 2017, suggestion that V2V be applied to every newly-produced light-duty vehicle, but both propositions came to a screeching halt by the end of that year. Presently, both recommendations are expected to be eliminated from the picture.
The problem with V2V advancements lies in its mode of communication: wireless data. Most luxury vehicles come equipped with 100 million lines of software code. Imagine, then, the amount of data that would be transferred between hundreds of these vehicles on the road. Coupled with the already over-loaded Cloud, many networking companies worry this could be catastrophic to our internet-savvy society. Although the government reserved a 5.9 GHz band in 1999 for future use, this frequency is currently being used by WiFi. Adding to the dilemma, internet companies would like to use the frequency for themselves, and the automobile industry would like to reserve it for V2V or similar future technology.
“The number of car accidents in America is increasing,” states Edward Lake, the founder of law firm Gacovino Lake. “Whether it’s stricter laws about driving distractions or technological advances such as autonomous vehicles, this is an issue that needs to be addressed.” The NHTSA estimates that over 1,300 lives could be saved by this technology within a single year. It further expects V2V to decrease congestion and increase the speed at which emergency personnel can arrive at a crash. Of course, it does have flaws, and the technology itself is still being employed and studied.
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