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New Technology to Reduce Many Types of Crashes

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed new safety regulations that got very little coverage; perhaps because the proposed rule came out on December 13th just before the yearend holidays. These regulations would use a new technology – vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) radio communications – that would allow vehicles to automatically send vehicle sensor data – the vehicle’s speed, heading, brake status and other information – to other vehicles to alert drivers to potential crash situations.

This is interesting technology that could impact the speed with which autonomous vehicles become viable. That is because the chief impediment to the viability of autonomous vehicles are fears that they are not safe enough.

There are already advanced crash avoidance technologies available that employ on-board sensor technologies – such as vehicle camera systems, RADAR, and LIDAR – to monitor a vehicles’ surroundings. That sensor data can then be used to warn the driver of impending danger so the driver can take appropriate action to avoid or mitigate a crash. Examples of the alerts include forward collision warnings, blind spot warnings, and lane change warnings.  These sensors can also be used for driver assist and allow a vehicle to automatically apply braking in a potential collision scenario.

The NHTSA is proposing that Basic Safety Message data should be shared with other nearby vehicles so that other types of potential accidents can be prevented. The Basic Safety Message will use vehicle-to-vehicle technology to communicate data on the vehicle’s speed, heading, brake status and other vehicle information to surrounding vehicles and receive the same information from them. Sharing this data will help to prevent the types of accidents current technologies help prevent, but also accidents current technologies don’t address, such as a vehicle about to turn in front of yours at an intersection.  The NHTSA also argues that the current technologies have limitations in terms of sensor range and inability to fully cope with sensor obstructions that vehicle-to-vehicle systems will not.


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