Government Pushes for ‘Internet of Cars’

Eyes life-saving potential of vehicle-to-vehicle networks

The government believes that public safety could be much improved if communication between cars were more sophisticated than current protocols, which primarily feature the middle finger. To that end, reports Stephen Lawson on, it is currently seeking input from industry and the public about a possible federal standard for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) technology that would let cars automatically exchange information such as proximity and rate of speed.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx described V2V technology as nothing less than “the next great advance in saving lives.”

In August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a research report on V2V that estimated that just two possible applications of V2V — Left Turn Assist and Intersection Movement Assist — could prevent as many as 592,000 crashes and save 1,083 lives per year.

Left Turn Assist would warn drivers not to turn left into the path of an oncoming car, and Intersection Movement Assist would warn drivers not to enter an intersection when there’s a high probability of crashing into other vehicles.

Neither system would necessarily take control of a car, although the evolutionary trend toward a self-driving car seems clear.

V2V would run over wireless networks using the IEEE 802.11p specification, a variant of the standard used for Wi-Fi, on a band of spectrum between 5.85GHz and 5.925GHz. The NHTSA insists that V2V would have layers of security and privacy technology to protect users and wouldn’t collect or share personal information about drivers.

But there are those, like network security blogger Martin McKeay, who can easily image the V2V system “being used to track individuals every movement in a way that makes Orwell’s 1984 look Utopian.” He also raises some interesting concerns about swarm behavior and the unintended consequences of imbuing machines with the ability to coordinate with one another, however primitively. It is the stuff of science fiction movies … and yet it might be just a government RFP away …