What you need to know about vehicle-to-vehicle communication

In December of 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT) proposed a new regulation that would require new vehicles to be equipped with vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, communications.

V2V is crash-mitigation technology that relies on the transmission of high volumes of data between vehicles that alert drivers of obscured road hazards. The DoT projects V2V systems to prevent “hundreds of thousands of crashes every year.”

Their proposal aims to standardise the format and deployment of V2V transmissions, which will enable manufacturers to efficiently spur the growth of equipped vehicles at critical mass.

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Although the proposal is still being moulded and finalised, Anthony Foxx, the Secretary of Transportation, estimated its implementation to go into effect around 2019, allowing manufacturers to phase in their entire fleet by 2023.

As V2V communication shows promise to revolutionise motor vehicle safety, here are some things everyone should know about its technology and how it’ll impact the driving experience as we know it.

How V2V works

V2V systems will use dedicated short-range communications (DSRC), which are two-way wireless channels that enable V2V-equipped cars to communicate with each other at roughly 300 meters, and whose broadcast updates 10 times per second. DSRCs accrue and share basic safety messages (BSMs) about a vehicle’s speed, direction, braking status, and position, to determine whether an alert needs to be sent to the driver.

DSRCs will operate in the 75 MHz band—of which the FCC has apportioned a spectrum of 5.9 GHz—to provide a clean, unrestricted communication environment.

According to the DoT, once the technology is implemented, V2V will employ 360-degree situational awareness. This will give vehicles a vivid, panoramic view of environmental conditions unfolding around them. With dynamic BSMs, connected cars can better pinpoint dangers and warn drivers if a collision is imminent.

How V2V will revolutionise safety

The two most prominent safety applications in the works are intersection movement assist (IMA), which warns drivers of unsafe intersections (i.e. a car runs a red light), and left turn assist (LTA), which helps drivers avoid collisions during an unprotected left turn across traffic.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA), both IMA and LTA alone could reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities by about 50% on average.

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Additionally, V2V could boost the efficiency and accuracy of existing on-board systems, including:

  Emergency electronic brake light (alerts drivers of abrupt deceleration ahead).
  Forward collision warning (imminent threats ahead).
  Blind spot/lane change warning (alerts during unsafe lane changes).
  Do-not-pass warning (warns drivers when not to make a passing manoeuvre).
  Vehicle turning right in front of bus warning.

The DoT also says the technology will factor in personal privacy—no sensitive information about the driver or car will be exposed or transmitted via BSMs. Further, the NHTSA is prioritising cyber-security measures to ensure transmitted BSMs are adequately safeguarded against would-be hackers and that drivers receive security software updates.

Vehicle-to-infrastructure communication

To embolden crash-avoidance efforts by advancing V2V, the DoT also announced in mid-January of this year their vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications guidance, which will facilitate the high-octane exchange of data between not only vehicles, but also vehicles and aspects of road infrastructure. This will likely include traffic lights, roadside equipment, intersections, interchanges, gas stations, and much more.

On top of reducing collisions with other vehicles, V2I communications will support safety applications, such as:

  • Warning drivers about congestion, accidents, slippery patches of road, sharp turns, etc.
  • Merging assist
  • Intersection safety
  • Alerting drivers if they veer too close to the road’s edge

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In addition to which, V2I technology shows promise to significantly bolster traffic efficiency by notifying drivers about existing traffic jams, impending traffic jams, dynamic traffic light control, connected navigation, and more.

Of course, many might be wondering why a federal mandate is in the works, considering technological advancements are already underway. Much like existing car safety protocols, the government wants to standardise the “language” around BSMs, to ensure all vehicles properly retrieve and transmit communications.

Not only that—the government feels that V2V technology is progressing too slowly. “Without government action,” the proposal states, “these challenges could prevent this promising safety technology from achieving sufficiently widespread use throughout the vehicle fleet to achieve these benefits.”

The overarching theme behind the proposal? Expediting advancements to ensure our roads are monumentally safer sooner, rather than later.


Sourced by Stephanie Braun, director of auto product management at Esurance, where she is responsible for designing the company’s auto product lines and managing telematics programs 

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is a former editor for Information Age (from 2018 to 2022) before moving on to become Global Head of Brand Journalism at HCLTech. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and...

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