New US rules on 'vehicle-to-vehicle' communications under consultation

Connected vehicles

Car manufacturers active in the US market will need to ensure new models are fitted with technology that allows those vehicles to "talk" to other vehicles from as early as 2021, under new government proposals.

The US Department of Transportation (DoT) has opened a 90-day consultation on a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard which would "mandate vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications for new light vehicles" as well as "standardise the message and format of V2V transmissions".

Light vehicles are classed as vehicles with a weight rating of less than or equal to 10,000 pounds, and includes cars, vans, minivans, sport utility vehicles, crossover utility vehicles and light pickup trucks, the DoT said.

The move is designed to improve road safety. Sensor-based safety systems currently in use are not likely to "be able to address intersection and left-turning crashes, among other potential crash scenarios, as effectively as V2V communications could", the DoT said. It predicted that V2V communications could help prevent 500,000 crashes, and approximately 1,000 lives, in the US in the 30th year after the new standard is introduced.

US transport secretary Anthony Foxx said: "We are carrying the ball as far as we can to realize the potential of transportation technology to save lives. This long promised V2V rule is the next step in that progression. Once deployed, V2V will provide 360-degree situational awareness on the road and will help us enhance vehicle safety."

Expert in connected and autonomous vehicles Ben Gardner of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com, said: "It will be interesting to see how OEMs respond to the consultation. Model designs can be agreed many years before becoming commercially available and having to shoe-horn in additional components at a later stage may have an impact on, amongst other things, production and supply chain planning."

V2V communications will be mandated in stages, according to the proposals. The rules, once finalised, would come into effect "two model years" later, with the V2V standards then applying to 50 per cent, 75 per cent and then 100 per cent of all new light vehicles respectively in each of the subsequent three years.

"Assuming a final rule is issued in 2019, this would mean that the phase-in period would begin in 2021, and all vehicles subject to that final rule would be required to comply in 2023," the DoT said.

The DoT said that mandating V2V communications could add $300 to the cost of making each vehicle, but that it would save up to $71 billion as a result of lowering the number of vehicle collisions.

The proposed new standard would set out transmission requirements, as well as basic safety message content that would be shared between vehicles. It is also intended to feature "digital signatures to sign and verify basic safety messages" in a bid to provide drivers with confidence that the information they receive is accurate and requires their action.

According to the proposals, standards will also be developed to help recognise "device misbehaviour", which would include protocols for blocking messages from other vehicles' devices that are not functioning properly. V2V devices will also need to be "equipped with a mechanism for notifying users that the device and/or its supporting equipment is not operating normally and some form of repair is necessary", under the plans.

In addition, V2V devices will have to "be capable of receiving over-the-air (OTA) security and software updates". Other cybersecurity requirements will also be set, and vehicle manufacturers would also be required to provide customers with a privacy notice that explains how data from those devices might be collected, stored, used and accessed.

In a statement, the DoT also confirmed that it intends to issue new guidelines for vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications "soon". Those guidelines will set out its expectations on how connected vehicles will interact with road infrastructure such as traffic lights, stop signs and work zones, it said.

The European Commission recently published its own connected cars strategy, which stressed the need for new 'cooperative intelligent transport systems' (C-ITS) services to be based on "common communication profiles".

The Commission urged industry to base initial deployment of C-ITS services on ETSI ITS-G5 vehicle communication standards, but with a view to utilising '5G' technology or other future communication standards once they are finalised.

Under its plans, the first tranche of C-ITS services would be available in 2019. They would include "hazardous location notifications", which include warnings to vehicles about upcoming traffic, road works and the weather, as well as "signage applications", such as in-vehicle speed limits and traffic signal priority requests from designated vehicles.

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