Vehicle-to-vehicle communications, widely known as V2V, is regaining attention in the auto industry. Transponder systems that allow vehicles to signal their locations to one another show much promise for collision avoidance. And as certain entrepreneurs are proposing, such systems could provide further safety and convenience features.
The technology is here, but there needs to be a minimum percentage of transponder-equipped vehicles on the road to make the network effective. Reaching that saturation could prove difficult, since consumers may not want to pay for the equipment until the system is proved to be viable and advantageous.
According to Automotive News, federal regulators and auto manufacturers may be taking steps to solve that dilemma. Cadillac marketing representatives claim that they will equip the 2017 CTS sedan with V2V technology, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is making plans to propose a V2V mandate by the end of the year. If the latter takes effect, new car purchasers will have no choice in the V2V option.
In the mean time, technological auto suppliers are working on perfecting the transponders. To achieve a significant reduction in traffic accident rates, industry analysts believe 25-30 percent of vehicles on the road would have to be equipped. If the NHTSA were successful in adopting its mandate, it would take approximately five years to reach a 30 percent penetration rate.
Cars and trucks already on the road could be transponder equipped too, if aftermarket entities develop affordable hardware. David Acton, a former engineer at General Motor’s OnStar division is developing a transceiver that could be installed in any vehicle that would broadcast its location and receive other broadcasting vehicles’ signals.
Acton thinks there may be better ways to initially “sell” the system to the public than accident avoidance. For example, in a step toward V2I (vehicle to infrastructure communication), vehicles could receive transmissions from “smart” stoplights equipped with transponders that would allow autos to make all the green lights in their path. That benefit may be easier to demonstrate to consumers than accident avoidance.
Of course, that eventuality would depend on convincing municipalities to install the transponders. Acton has successfully tested such a system in Owassa, Michigan in 2010. Now, he is pitching its benefits to various cities, and if adopted, campaigns to sell transceivers to the residents would follow.
Despite quandaries, V2V has garnered some powerful backers. Following a 2012 test by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute of 3000 vehicles equipped with transponders, they are currently launching a 9000-vehicle test.
The Institute has also formed a research consortium made up of high-profile automotive technology firms including Robert Bosch, Delphi Automotive and Denso Corporation. It is possible that one or all of these companies could develop aftermarket V2V hardware to help speed its adoption.
There is no certainty to any of this, but the “rumblings” about the topic are on the rise. While the other companies in U of M’s think tank made no comment, Bosch spokeswoman, Linda Beckmeyer, said, “While we have nothing specific to announce, Bosch is keenly aware of the concept and the potential it offers.”
Besides that, V2V technology ties in well with driverless vehicle efforts. Per Acton, referring to his company’s stance, “Someone is going to do this, why not us?”
As with much technological development, though the specifics may be vague, the direction of driverless, V2V and V2I seems inevitable — forward.
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