GM to develop ‘talking cars’

Posted on July 7th, 2015 by James Luckhurst

Can we improve safety if we get cars talking to each other? GM believes so.

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General Motors has announced it plans to begin testing new technology that could allow “talking” cars to share radio communication bands with roadside Wi-Fi devices. The technology could hold out the promise of allowing Wi-Fi devices to share the same radio band as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) safety systems without causing interference, a spokesman said. The manufacturer intends to deploy V2V technology in its forthcoming US 2017 Cadillac CTS models.

“We are very optimistic about a sharing proposal that would operate on a ‘listen, detect and vacate’ basis,” said Harry Lightsey, executive director of GM’s Global Connected Customer Experience unit. “We have engaged with the developers of the technology and we plan to begin testing it as soon as possible.”

General Motors submitted the testimony to the American House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade ahead of a hearing this week on the benefits of V2V technology. The plan is thatbV2V technology would allow cars to talk to each other and avoid collisions, using the 5.9 GHz radio spectrum to share information about their relative positions, speeds, headings and braking status and warning drivers of possible risks. Safety regulators believe the technology could provide warnings in 80 percent of car accidents involving more than one vehicle.

But e-commerce companies have pressed for a share of the same spectrum for roadside Wi-Fi services, a prospect that some in the car industry say could interfere with V2V systems and prevent them from operating properly. Barry Einsig, Cisco’s global transportation executive, said in his written testimony that the company’s ‘Internet of Everything’ foresees a communications network connecting cars and other vehicles with each other and roadside entities including police and other emergency responders.

“Once vehicle-to-vehicle communications are widely installed in cars and light trucks as a safety measure, the private sector and our public sector partners will respond swiftly to bring the full set of benefits to drivers,” he said. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in May that car regulators would propose a rule by year-end requiring V2V-technology in vehicles. He also said his department would complete a preliminary test plan to determine whether the V2V spectrum can be safely shared.