February 20, 2014

A New Era Begins for Enhanced Vehicle Safety

By Brian Daugherty

The U.S. National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s recent and long-awaited announcement that it is moving forward with vehicle-to-vehicle communications (V2V) for light vehicles is a watershed event for automobile safety. 

Previous U.S. safety-related vehicle regulations have focused on self-contained, single vehicle systems such as seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control. V2V technology expands beyond the individual vehicle to collect and share data with surrounding vehicles – thereby dramatically increasing the information available to each driver. The path outlined by NHTSA focuses on deploying 5.9 GHz transponders on all new passenger vehicles so they can communicate basic safety data with each other, including position and intended path. These systems will enable drivers to receive warnings of potential collisions, thus potentially avoiding many accidents. Other warnings include dangerous or slippery road conditions, curve speed warnings and traffic congestion information. One of the biggest impediments to fielding a successful collaborative, radio-based vehicle safety system is getting a significant number of systems on the road.  NHTSA’s announcement assures a path to that critical mass and gives the final deployment push to a development effort that has spanned several decades. 

Visteon has been involved in V2V and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) efforts (collectively known as V2X) for many years and we are excited about working toward a more definitive deployment goal – albeit one with yet-to-be-defined timing. Automotive grade chipsets are now available from a number of suppliers and we have production path hardware.

The Ann Arbor Safety Pilot Deployment
NHTSA also took actions to indefinitely continue and expand the Ann Arbor Safety Pilot Deployment – the world’s largest deployment of V2X technology. This deployment is managed by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute and involves nearly 3,000 cars, trucks, buses, motorcycles and bicycles. Plans are being developed to expand the Ann Arbor effort in stages to eventually include more than 25,000 vehicles. This will enable final verification and validation of the technology in a real-world environment prior to a national deployment. Visteon is actively involved in the safety pilot and will be assisting with the expanded fleet.

The FCC and 5.9 GHz Spectrum Issues
As NHTSA moves toward rulemaking and deployment, hopefully the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will not open up the V2X-dedicated 5.9 GHz spectrum to other uses.  Keeping this safety-related communication band free of interference will be even more important in avoiding preventable accidents in the future, especially as more V2X-equipped vehicles are produced. 

On a related note, I will be moderating a panel discussion on “How Smart Devices Can Add Day One Value” at AutoBeat Daily’s Beyond the Connected Vehicle conference on Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 at NextEnergy in Detroit. V2X will be one of the connected technologies in the program.

Brian Daugherty is an associate director at Visteon Corporation and has global responsibilities for corporate advanced development and intellectual property. Recent projects in his 23-year career include V2X communications, advanced driver awareness systems (ADAS) and the optimization of Visteon’s patent portfolio. Based at Visteon’s corporate offices and innovation center in Van Buren Township, Mich., Daugherty also manages a number of industry and university partnerships.