The blog of Xeno, a slightly mad scientist
Image: “… before the motor laws…” – Rush, Red Barchetta.
… Before the end of this year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will decide whether or not to begin the rulemaking process to mandate that newly manufactured cars include what is being called “vehicle-to-vehicle” V2V communications technology that constantly broadcasts via radio wave the car’s location, direction, speed and, possibly, even the number of passengers it is carrying.“NHTSA expects to make a decision on V2V technology by the end of the year,” a spokesman for the agency told CNSNews.com.
That point was reaffirmed by NHTSA Administrator David Strickland in testimony in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee today, where he said the agency will “decide this year whether to further advance the technology through regulatory action, additional research, or a combination of both.”“We expect to issue decisions on light duty vehicles this year, followed by a decision on heavy-duty vehicles in 2014,” he said. NHTSA sees this technology as the first step on a “continuum” of automotive evolution that will ultimately lead to fully automated vehicles navigated by internal electronics linked to external infrastructure, communications and database systems.The upside of a government-mandated movement toward cars that are not controlled by the people riding in them is that it could make transportation safer, allow people to use time spent in a vehicle for work, rest or entertainment, and give people who are currently incapable of driving because of age or disability the opportunity to move as freely as those who can now drive.
The downside is that such a transportation system would give the government at least the capability to exert increasing control over when, where, if–or for how much additional taxation–people are allowed to go places in individually owned vehicles. It could also give government the ability to track where people go and when. …
CNSNews.com contacted David Wise, director of the physical infrastructure team at GAO that conducted the study of V2V, and asked him two questions raised by this technology.
Question: “Is it true that V2V technology and the communication system that goes with it, would at least give the government the potential to track the movement of vehicles if that is what it wanted to do?”
Wise: “It would depend on the specific design of the security communications system which, as we say in the report, is not finalized. As we state in our report, according to automobile industry representatives, the security system now under development is being designed to ensure data privacy structure that prevents the association of a vehicle’s V2V communication security certificates with any unique identifier of drivers of their vehicles. In addition, according to DOT, as currently conceived, a V2V communication security system would contain multiple technical, physical, and organizational controls to minimize privacy risks—including the risk of vehicle tracking by individuals and government or commercial entities. DOT officials also told us that the department will continue to assess any risks to privacy posed by the introduction of V2V technologies and identify mitigation measures to minimize those risks as more aspects of a system of V2V communications are defined.” …
The V2V program has been developed around Digital Short-Range Communications (DSRC) technology that operates on Federal Communications Commission licensed spectrum. Located in the 5.9 GHz band, the physical characteristics of this spectrum is able to support data from a number of safety applications that require nearly instantaneous information relay. Since this spectrum was first allocated, the Department has conducted significant research developing the concept, supporting consensus standards both in the U.S. and with other Nations, and working with the auto manufacturers on coordinated V2V technology development. The Federal Communications Commission is considering making portions of the 5GHz spectrum, including the 5.9GHz spectrum that DSRC relies on, available to accommodate growing data transmissions from unlicensed devices, such as Wi-Fi. I recognize the FCC will look at “harmful interference” as part of its consideration and would like to note that, in order to provide a reliable and trusted public safety service, current DSRC enabled safety devices require instant availability to the medium to meet safety requirements. In other words, a DSRC transmitter needs to be able to transmit whenever it senses the requirement to transmit, so that the basic safety message is immediately shared with recipients in real time to be useful. Thus, DOT would initially define “harmful interference” with safety as anything that prevents or delays access to the desired channel, or otherwise pre-empts the applications from providing its life safety capability.