New Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Rules

Urban planner and historian Sarah Jo Peterson emails me that the US Department of Transportation just proposed a rule requiring automakers to include vehicle-to-vehicle communication hardware in new cars, and to use a common standard.

Of course, this is just a proposal. Before this could ever take effect, a new presidential administration will be in place and they might have their own views.

Peterson notes some concerns:

Are we moving to a world where bicycles need V2V and pedestrians need V2V? What does it mean for an act of mobility to require continuous government permission? (If you are not broadcasting, are you illegal? Will you be shut down in real time?)

I agree and would prefer if V2V arose as a de facto standard, instead of a de jure standard mandated by the government. This might be tougher for vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, which necessarily involves communication with government property, like traffic lights.

But if SMTP could rise as a de facto standard, the cause does not seem lost.

Meanwhile, Peterson points me to a Transportist blog post by David Levinson, arguing that in some scenarios, vehicle-to-vehicle communication may even be harmful in some scenarios.

The full blog post is hard to excerpt, but Levinson emphasizes that if we come to rely on vehicle-to-vehicle communication to navigate intersections (for example), a bug in the system or an unexpected event (he suggests a deer crossing the road) could bring traffic to a halt and possibly cause massive collisions.

I’m a little less pessimistic on that front, but Levinson is a professor of transportation and has been working on this problem for a decade, so I might defer to his logic.

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