Government to require cars be able to talk to each other

December 13, 2016 by Joan Lowy
In this July 20, 2015 file photo, a pedestrian crosses in front of a vehicle as part of a demonstration at Mcity on its opening day on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor, Mich. Cars that wirelessly talk to each other are finally ready for the road, creating the potential to dramatically reduce traffic deaths, improve the safety of self-driving cars and someday maybe even help solve traffic jams, automakers and government officials say. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

All new cars and light trucks would be able to talk wirelessly with each other, with traffic lights and with other roadway infrastructure under a rule the Transportation Department proposed Tuesday. Officials say the technology holds the potential to dramatically reduce traffic deaths and transform driving.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or V2V, enables cars to transmit their locations, speed, direction and other information ten times per second. That lets cars detect, for example, when another vehicle is about to run a red light, is braking hard, changing lanes or coming around a blind turn in time for a driver or automated safety systems to prevent a crash.

The technology has the potential to prevent or mitigate the severity of up to 80 percent of collisions that don't involve alcohol or drugs, officials said.

"V2V will provide 360-degree situational awareness on the road," said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives."

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said it is reviewing the proposal, but sees V2V as complementary to automated safety features that are increasingly being added to vehicles.

Automakers and the government have been working together on developing technology for more than a decade. Under the department's proposal, V2V systems would be required to "speak the same language" through standardized messaging.

The Federal Highway Administration plans to separately issue guidance to help transportation planners integrate two-way wireless technology into roadway infrastructure such as traffic lights, stop signs and work zones. Cars could communicate information on road conditions to the infrastructure, which could then be passed along to other vehicles as they come along. Traffic lights would know when to stay green to avoid unnecessary waiting and reduce congestion.

There is a 90-day comment period, and officials said they expect it will be about a year before a final rule is released.

The proposal calls for 50 percent of new vehicles to have the technology within two years after a final rule is issued, and 100 percent of vehicles with four years. It would still take years or even decades after that for the full potential of V2V to be realized. That's because V2V can prevent collisions only among vehicles equipped with the technology.

It takes decades for the entire fleet of vehicles on the road to turn over. But the process of spreading V2V throughout the fleet may go faster if, as expected, devices are developed that enable motorists to add the technology to older vehicles.

Some automakers aren't waiting for the final rule. General Motors has said previously that it plans to include V2V in some 2017 Cadillacs. The 2017 Mercedes E-Class sedans are also equipped with V2V.

V2V's range is up to about 1,000 yards in all directions, even when sight is blocked by buildings or other obstacles. That gives the technology the advantage of being able to detect a potential collision before the driver can see the threat, unlike the sensors and cameras of self-driving cars that sense what's immediately around the vehicle.

Industry and government officials see the two technologies as complementary. Ultimately, self-driving cars that are also equipped with V2V may be the answer to traffic congestion because they'll be able to synchronize their movements so that they can merge seamlessly and safely travel in long, closely packed caravans at higher speeds. That would improve traffic flow and increase highway capacity.

To address cybersecurity, the proposal requires that V2V systems employ a security level of at least 128-bit encryption and comply with benchmarks of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

To protect privacy, V2V messages are anonymous—they don't contain any information on the driver, owner of the vehicle, make or model, vehicle identification number or license plate. The messages are also of brief duration and not retained, therefore it's not possible to use the messages to determine where a vehicle has been or to search for a particular vehicle among others on the road, said Debra Bezzina, an engineer with the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute who works on the technology.

One hurdle facing the technology is preservation of its exclusive right to use the 5.9 Ghz radio spectrum that Congress specifically set aside for V2V years ago. Since then, an explosion in the number of wireless devices and skyrocketing demand for ever faster Wi-Fi has led to pressure from technology companies who want permission to use the same spectrum.

The Federal Communications Commission is in the first phase of a three-phrase testing program to see if sharing the spectrum with Wi-Fi would interfere with V2V signals.

Spectrum sharing should be allowed "only if it can be proven that no harmful interference occurs," the auto alliance said in a statement. "Any interference could result in a crash, or even worse, an injury or fatality."

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19 comments

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gkam
1.3 / 5 (9) Dec 13, 2016
Of course,the Trump cars will have the Supreme Clearance and right-of-way over everything else. Then, his sycophants and kids.

Then the oil companies and Russian diplomats. Then banks, then Big Oil, and coal producers.

The rest of us will be made to line the parade routes for them.
dogbert
5 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2016
The government designs a system where every car on the road communicates it's location, direction and speed constantly, seeks to make that system mandatory, and we are to believe that government cannot use that information to track where you are or discover where you have been?

Eikka
5 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2016
therefore it's not possible to use the messages to determine where a vehicle has been or to search for a particular vehicle among others on the road


Never say never.

Bet you they come up with a way to correlate data and track a V2V car somehow, if they already haven't and are just lying about it.

At its simplest, if you can play "marco-polo" with a V2V equipped car, you can always follow it around. Just triangulate where the signal is coming from and keep bouncing new messages off of the car, so you don't lose track where it is. Individual cars could also be hacked to respond in an unique way, by an OTA software update for example, if the law-enforcement so demands.

What's more likely is that 5 years after the system has been made mandatory on all cars, there's a terrorist attack or a crime wave, or some other moral panic, and the government demands a software update to include a unique ID with every car, and then it's all privacy lost.
LED_Guy
5 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2016
You're all missing the scary thing.

Spoof a signal (or enough signals) and you can cause major/horrendous accidents. Carjacking won't be necessary anymore.

Have this in place on the LA freeway at rush hour and jam signals over a stretch of road. All of the sudden the cars won't be able to communicate and you have a high speed crash with hundreds of vehicles.

Sounds like a good idea, but scares the (*$*Y$ out of me. A disaster in the making . . .
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2016
Sounds like a good idea, but scares the (*$*Y$ out of me. A disaster in the making . . .


Jamming won't be an issue since at 5.9 GHz the signals are more or less line-of-sight anyways and can't be trusted to propagate through buildings or other vehicles, or people.

The cars have to be able to drive without the system, because you get the bluetooth effect - ever tried to use a headset in a crowded metro car where everyone has an earpiece? It gets really flaky very fast.

The higher up the radio frequency go, the more the signals start behaving like light beams and the more things start to become opaque to them, especially if the object is made of metal or water. The 1,000 yard radius at 5.9 Ghz through hills and houses is just pure fantasy.

The real trouble is whether your car trusts the vehicle ahead when it says it's going to make an emergency stop, because your car may have to take some drastic measures like steering into the ditch, so it better not be a hoax
dogbert
5 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2016
LED_Guy,
The ways a terrorist can cause death and destruction with such systems is huge. Doesn't even have to be a terrorist. A jilted lover, a rapist, even someone causing havoc for kicks. As cars become more autonomous, the potential increases and cannot be eliminated.
gkam
1 / 5 (5) Dec 13, 2016
Dogbert, who was it who inflicted Big Brother on us after their failure to protect us on 9/11?

Who is now the unwitting agent of Putin?

Ain't no Democrats.
Captain Stumpy
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2016
The government designs a system where every car on the road communicates it's location, direction and speed constantly, seeks to make that system mandatory, and we are to believe that government cannot use that information to track where you are or discover where you have been?
@dogbert
you already have that ability/potential with cell phones... and it is far more likely to be accurate considering people tend to keep those on their person

i can understand your hesitation, however, since it would likely be mandatory and it is also likely to be strictly regulated by the state
Scroofinator
3 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2016
Nearly everything involving propulsion has redundancies, this would just supplement current tech like the tesla autopilot feature.
Eikka
5 / 5 (3) Dec 13, 2016
you already have that ability/potential with cell phones


A cellphone can be turned off while driving.

Though every car with "onstar" or the like is a cellphone already, so, the point is moot. OnStar collects your location, speed, and whether you use your seatbelt etc. and sends it to the company, who recently changed their EULA to allow them to sell the information on to third parties, and the data collection is apparently on regardless of whether you're subscribed to the service.

Fortunately, it's still legal to physically disable the OnStar hardware, either by pulling out the module or severing the GPS antenna.
dogbert
1 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2016
Eikka,

I don't have anything with OnStar in it for those reasons, plus OnStar can remotely stop your vehicle.
LED_Guy
5 / 5 (1) Dec 13, 2016

Jamming won't be an issue since at 5.9 GHz the signals are more or less line-of-sight anyways and can't be trusted to propagate through buildings or other vehicles, or people.

The higher up the radio frequency go, the more the signals start behaving like light beams and the more things start to become opaque to them, especially if the object is made of metal or water. The 1,000 yard radius at 5.9 Ghz through hills and houses is just pure fantasy.


Ahhh yes, military X-band radar at 8.5-10.5 GHz can't be jammed because its foolproof. Do you make this stuff up?

A jamming signal doesn't have to go through hills. High speed roadways have lots of long stretches, just like the streets in Manhattan (low speed but packed with cars) - you just make my argument easier.
ab3a
5 / 5 (2) Dec 13, 2016
Jamming won't be an issue...

I've been working on 6 GHz terrestrial microwave for decades. Believe me, it refracts and reflects all over the place.

... the bluetooth effect..

So this makes it good to use for V2V?

The 1,000 yard radius at 5.9 Ghz through hills and houses is just pure fantasy.

Nonsense. A bit of power and a decent antenna in the clear and it will go for many miles.

The real trouble is whether your car trusts the vehicle ahead when it says it's going to make an emergency stop..

Uh, yeah, that's a problem. All it takes is one rogue signal and you have an instant traffic jam.

I'm starting to feel like the Stainless Steel Rat character by Harry Harrison. People are building on castles of trust. It is not hard to subvert all of it. V2V is a stupid idea.
Captain Stumpy
3 / 5 (2) Dec 14, 2016
I don't have anything with OnStar in it for those reasons, plus OnStar can remotely stop your vehicle.
@dog
do you have a satellite radio?

TheGhostofOtto1923
3 / 5 (2) Dec 15, 2016
I don't have anything with OnStar in it for those reasons, plus OnStar can remotely stop your vehicle
You do have a licence plate, which will soon be electronic - why not? Signs along freeways encourage reporting of aggressive drivers. Insurance companies give huge breaks for people who don't speed or brake hard. And malfunctioning AI vehicles will need to be stopped.

So AI car networks will indeed know who each car belongs to and whether those cars are dangerous, and will warn others of your presence. If you can still and afford insurance that is.

Uninsured cars won't leave the driveway.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Dec 15, 2016
The idea here is to have this as a "true positive" feature. That means that cars will react if they get a signal (e.g. that another car is too close). NOT that they will not react if they have NO signal. So jamming isn't an issue at all. There won't be one *additional* accident due to false signal or jamming.
Certainly there will remain a lot of cars on the road that don't have this feature or where it doesn't work for some reason - so relying on this for traffic flow control (i.e. a 'true negative' feature) is not even an option.
Eikka
not rated yet Dec 19, 2016

Ahhh yes, military X-band radar at 8.5-10.5 GHz can't be jammed because its foolproof. Do you make this stuff up?


That's not the point. I was saying you can't trust the signal to transmit properly in the first place, so the car has to be able to function without it, in which case jamming is a non-issue because it's just the same as not recieving the signal - the car defaults to whatever it was using otherwise.

If there is no default operation in the absence of the V2V signal, then the system is designed to break.

The idea here is to have this as a "true positive" feature. That means that cars will react if they get a signal (e.g. that another car is too close). NOT that they will not react if they have NO signal. So jamming isn't an issue at all.


Exactly.
Eikka
not rated yet Dec 19, 2016
Nonsense. A bit of power and a decent antenna in the clear and it will go for many miles.


Yep, in the clear.

But you have an omnidirectional antenna, and you can't use very much power or else you'll start jamming other vehicles recievers close by, and if you're relying on reflections to get your signal over a hill or around a building, good luck. It's going to be really patchy and the signal will be drowning in multi-path interference.

Which gives an interesting problem: if the car ahead of you signals "emergency brake!", how do you know it's the car ahead and not someone else? How do you actually locate the source when the signal is bouncing all over the place from walls and cars?

After all, the signal is not supposed to contain any unique identifiers or data that would let you track the vehicle, but you need to track the vehicles to know which one is telling you something important.
ab3a
not rated yet Dec 19, 2016
Eikka, like the Internet itself, if everything operates cooperatively, it works. The problem is that there will be situations where that isn't the case.

This is yet another case of building on castles on foundations of trust. Often that trust is misplaced. The question is, what could anyone do to prevent injuries and fatalities when that trust goes awry?

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