The government's latest technological safety advancement comes with some major questions. The U.S. Department of Transportation and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, along with the auto industry, are expected to decide within weeks whether to require new technology known as "V2V" or vehicle-to-vehicle in all new cars. David Wise with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) tells KTRH the idea behind the system is to prevent car accidents. "It will provide wireless signals from one car to another to let you know...like if you're going around a blind corner and a car is coming, a light will go on in your car or a seat will vibrate," he says.
The system uses GPS data to allow vehicles to "talk" to each other. "Basically it's all done through wireless technology," says Wise. "So the vehicles are essentially communicating with each other and letting the drivers know that there's a potentially dangerous situation unfolding either in front of them, beside them, or even behind them." But Wise also cautions that the V2V system is hardly a done deal. The GAO has released a report based on testing of the system, and found several potential problems. One of the biggest is privacy. "The last thing you want is either the government to be knowledgeable about this kind of information, or to have hackers be able to get hold of it," says Wise. While the system is aimed at protecting drivers, some privacy advocates are concerned it could be used to track drivers and punish or tax them based on driving habits.
Wise acknowledges that those concerns must be addressed before V2V can go forward. "Communication security--writ large--is a challenge that the government and the car manufacturers are actively working on," he says. Other concerns include whether other wireless technology such as cell phones and navigation systems would interfere with the V2V signals, plus how much the system will cost and who will ultimately pay that cost--the consumer, the car manufacturer, or the government.