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The Transportation Department is planning to bring industry and states together later this year to develop a road map for advancing technology that allows cars to communicate wirelessly, an agency official said Tuesday.
Transportation officials and industry are looking to speed the deployment of technology that would allow cars to communicate with other vehicles, infrastructure, and pedestrians, but challenges remain around regulatory uncertainty and wireless interference. Proponents see the technology as a way to counter rising traffic deaths. Roughly 43,000 people died in crashes last year, the most since 2005, according to federal estimates.
The technology, called V2X or vehicle-to-everything, aims to allow cars to transmit information about speed and location, as well as provide drivers with real-time advisories on road conditions and information on pedestrians.
“V2X communication is another way we could move the nation closer toward zero crashes,” Robert Hampshire, deputy assistant secretary for research and technology at the Transportation Department, said at an Alliance for Automotive Innovation event Tuesday. He said it has “proven benefits” for reducing accidents, emissions, and congestion.
Connected vehicle technology is on the independent National Transportation Safety Board’s “most wanted list” to help avoid crashes. Michael Graham, a board member of the NTSB, said connected cars can transmit data every 10 milliseconds, such as GPS location, acceleration, and predicted path.
“This could save thousands of lives and prevent or mitigate millions of crashes every year,” Graham said at the forum.
Industry groups are pressuring the federal government to do its part to advance the technology. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation issued 10 policy recommendations Tuesday, including calling on the Transportation Department to expand its connected vehicle pilot program, develop a national strategy, and look into including V2X as a recommended safety technology under its New Car Assessment Program.
The group also wants the Transportation Department, the Federal Communications Commission, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to work with industry to identify additional spectrum for V2X technologies.
The technology “has not yet been fully realized in the US,” John Bozzella, CEO of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said. “We also need a regulatory and policy environment that supports and facilitates V2X adoption and use.”
Graham agreed that regulatory uncertainty, such as spectrum conflicts and interference potential, have “hindered the deployment of V2X technology.” He said the Transportation Department and FCC should issue rules for connected cars, and noted that Ford Motor Co. has said it will deploy V2X in new vehicles once regulations are in place.
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