Will Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication Ever Take Off?
John Koon posted on February 20, 2019 |

The Need for V2V

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, traffic accidents and deaths are on the rise. The number of lives lost on U.S. roads exceeds 37,000 annually. Most of the fatal traffic crashes occur when the drivers are distracted, drowsy, drunk, speeding, not wearing seatbelts, or playing with their pets or their phones. As a result, drivers drift into oncoming traffic or off the road, driving into other cars or structures and killing themselves, other drivers, pedestrians or bicyclists. In addition, accidents occur at night when lights malfunction or cars otherwise become invisible to other drivers. Soon, climate change may lead to more traffic accidents, as it brings more severe snowstorms that significantly reduce road visibility. Lastly, because self-driving cars still do not possess comprehensive and reliable technology to distinguish between objects, other cars and pedestrians, the rise of autonomous vehicles is a cause for concern.

What is V2V?

V2V is a crash avoidance system that consists of sensors on vehicles and dedicated short-range radio communication (DSRC) devices that enable the exchange of information between vehicles, including factors such as speed, direction, and braking status. V2V communication has a longer capability range (300 meters) than ultrasonic sensors, cameras, and radars, and can therefore alert drivers of dangerous situations earlier and more effectively. Moreover, V2V can be combined with radars and cameras to achieve even greater safety.

V2V is especially useful in emergency braking situations where the tail (emergency brake) lights on cars are obscured, such as at intersections and left turns, which have the highest crash incidence. Also, V2V can alert drivers to blind spots, increase awareness during lane changes, and when passing a vehicle on a two-lane road requires crossing into oncoming traffic.

(Imagecourtesy of Forbes Magazine.)
(Image courtesy of Forbes Magazine.)

Trends and Developments

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) systems, which is a component of V2V, have been available on some vehicle models in the U.S. since 2006. There are two types of AEB systems: dynamic brake support and “crash imminent” braking. Dynamic brake support supplements a driver’s braking to avoid a potential crash. Crash imminent braking automatically activates the braking system to slow or stop the car when the driver does not take any action to avoid the collision. In 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)—an agency within the U.S.Department of Transportation—and 20 major automakers reached an agreement to make AEB a standard feature in all new vehicles by 2022. In 2013, after extensive research and collaboration between the automotive industry and academic institutions, the NHTSA issued a regulatory proposal to require vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) devices in vehicles in the future. At the moment, only one U.S. car model—the Cadillac CTS—has V2V capability.

According to a report by Juniper Research titled “Consumer Connected Cars: Telematics, In-Vehicle Apps & Connected Car Commerce 2018-2023,” about 60% of new vehicles (representing over 62 million vehicles) will have V2V capability by 2023, a 173% annual growth rate from the 1.1 million in 2019. This development will make the U.S. the leading market for V2V deployments. The implementation of V2V is projected to prevent over 9,300 deaths per annum and reduce automotive-related deaths by 25%. 

(Imagecourtesy of Saudi Gazette.)
(Image courtesy of Saudi Gazette.)

Issues

The NHTSA has performed extensive research to demonstrate the benefits as well as the feasibility of V2V. With the installation of AEB in many models of cars and the installation of V2V in one model (Cadillac CTS), the market and consumers are getting ready for V2V. However, there are still issues that the industry and the regulatory agencies need to work out before V2V can truly take off.

Government Guidelines on DSRC versus 5G

Due to two competing and mutually exclusive standards for providing V2V communications—the Wi-Fi-based dedicated short-range radio communication (DSRC) and the cellular-based 5G—the United States and the EU are both experiencing delays in reviewing and passing V2V-related regulatory rulings. The DSRC versus 5G debate appears to be the cause in both cases, although the controversy is more ambiguous in the U.S. than in the EU. The short-range Wi-Fi DSRC system, once installed, will continue to operate for the life of the car and does not depend on any external cellular network. On the other hand, 5G is faster (lower latency) and has a longer range (500 meters to DSRC’s 300) and may offer more utility and vehicular safety than DSRC. The biggest roadblock is that DSRC and 5G share the same frequencies but are not interoperable, which makes this a zero-sum game.

While industry analysts predict that automotive OEMs will gravitate towards 5G for V2V for its lower latency and higher range, DSRC still appeals to automakers like Ford, GM and Toyota because they will not have to pay for a subscription fee. Either way, deciding on 5G or DSRC will assure the industry and finally accelerate the implementation of V2V. In the U.S., while the NHTSA does not explicitly support the DSRC or the 5G platform, it has referred to DSRC more frequently and in more detail in its reports. In the EU, the Central Commission’s ruling on V2V, originally expected in late 2018, is stalled because the Nordic countries support the 5G-connected V2V, but other countries such as Spain are solidly behind the DSRC-based V2V. Meanwhile, automakers are working with individual states like Colorado and Arizona to implement the V2V system. In the EU, the member countries are waiting for the Central Commission’s ruling.

Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I), Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P), Vehicle-to-Network (V2N). (Image courtesy of Wang et al., 2017.)
Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V), Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I), Vehicle-to-Pedestrian (V2P), Vehicle-to-Network (V2N). (Image courtesy of Wang et al., 2017.)

Spectrum

On a related note, V2V communications occur in a 75 MHz band of the 5.9 GHz spectrum, which has been allocated to V2V by the FCC since 1999, with the intention of providing a relatively clean operating environment and interference-free communication zone. Since there was little development on V2V for a long time, cable TV and cell phone companies have been pushing to expand their bandwidth into the 5.9 GHz spectrum. In defense of the spectrum, automotive trade organizations have been pushing back against the tech companies in recent years. At the moment, it appears the automakers still have the upper hand, but if V2V development remains stalled, the spectrum issue could prove problematic in the future for the automakers.

Cost

NHTSA estimates V2V equipment, security and information management systems will cost about $350 per vehicle in 2020 and decrease to around $200 by 2058. Annual additional costs for automakers are projected to be $300 million to $2.1 billion in 2020, $1.1 to 6.4 billion between 2022 and 2024, and decrease to $1.1 to 4.6 billion.

Security Concerns

Public key infrastructure, similar to the systems used in banking and credit cards, will be used for V2V to prevent hacking. Also, NHTSA stipulates that V2V systems will not collect, broadcast, or share personal information between vehicles, or permit the tracking of a specific driver or vehicle.

Conclusion

V2V is a noble idea. But the implementation is far more complicated than most people realize. It involves many aspects including technology, wireless spectrum, many governmental regulatory bodies, cooperation of automakers and adaptation of the technology as a whole. On the other hand, as IoT becomes more prevalent and applicable across many sectors, the development and implementation of V2V systems stands to benefit. Sensors, data storage, and analytics will become increasingly cost-effective, ensuring the widespread prevalence and network effects of V2V systems. Another factor is the infrastructure including traffic lights, freeway structure etc. Vehicle-to-infrastructure, or the increased connectivity between vehicles as well as between vehicles and components of roadway infrastructure, is the likely next step after V2V. However, since the roadway infrastructure is not uniform across the board in the U.S., V2I may face even more challenges than V2V. All told, V2V will continue to evolve slowly. The year may be 2030 before we see vehicles equipped with V2V systems capable of detecting the sudden stop of other vehicles in front. But the full implementation of V2V including V2I may be many years away.

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