U.S. Department of Transportation wants new cars to talk to each other

The connected car got a major push from the federal government today, as the Department of Transportation announced plans for a regulatory proposal that would require vehicle-to-vehicle communication devices in a future year. The proposal comes after a yearlong pilot program by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which will be releasing a report on its findings in the coming weeks. It’s just a first step towards the new communication system, but it’s a big one. 

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications systems sound on first hearing like an innovative new way to yell at other drivers in traffic jams, but there’s more going with the proposed new car industry standard. The idea is that if cars are sharing important information like location, speed and hazard warnings to all the other cars nearby, plenty of accidents could be avoided. It’s a big change in the emphasis of car safety systems, which have historically focused on reducing the damage and risk caused by accidents (think seat belts, airbags and crumple zones). This time, it’s about avoiding accidents even happening in the first place.

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