Talking cars: How the US government wants to make V2V the law

The US government plans to mandate cars that can talk with each other, proposing wireless intercommunication between moving vehicles that will warn drivers of potential crashes and other perils that they might not ordinarily have spotted. Dubbed V2V or "vehicle to vehicle", the system could lead to more than a thousand road deaths from intersection collisions a year, the NHTSA says, in addition to making blind spots safer, flagging up times when it's dangerous to overtake, and pre-warn drivers of upcoming stop signs and lights.

A new report details some of the extensive considerations that would go into such a system, covering everything from what hardware might be used and its cost, which data would be communicated between vehicles, and how drivers themselves would be alerted. Meanwhile, there's also time spent on the security of the system, and how it would be encrypted to avoid eavesdropping and intrusions on privacy.

The NHTSA suggests more simplistic displays would probably be best, certainly in terms of minimizing how much added expense V2V might bring to a new car. That could be a cluster of five display lights, a "malfunction" lamp, or a light-bar; other possibilities include a head-up display of some sort, or even haptic feedback, but the agency warns that such implementations could get considerably more expensive.

The data itself would be encrypted and not contain personally identifiable information, and could also form the basis of intelligent roadways for self-driving cars.

Ford V2V hands-on:

Several companies have already experimented with cars that can intercommunicate, either with other vehicles as in Ford's system we tested in the video above, or with city infrastructure around it. The NHTSA's priority is to make sure each that actually gets deployed is speaking the same language.

Suggested are two sets of data, initially one which would include the core information – like position, speed, heading, brake status, and vehicle size – which would be regularly broadcast. A second, more comprehensive set would be transmitted if the data involved actively changed.

That could anything from whether the vehicle had a flat tire or its lights turned on, through to mass, bumper heights, and the confidence the system has in tightness of turns and other factors.

There's also consideration given to how manufacturers and owners may retrofit V2V into cars, so that existing vehicles on the road could also tap into the combined network.

The proposals are being thrown open for public feedback for a sixty day period, after which point the NHTSA and the government will work on the laws themselves which are expected to be put forward by 2016.