The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced recently that it's going to have official rules for Vehicle-to-Vehicle (V2V) communication by the end of the year.
This is a rather aggressive timeline considering we're just now beginning to see self-driving cars being allowed on public roads. However, it may still take years before car manufacturers implement the V2V technology, which is probably why the U.S. government is in a hurry to have the rules set now rather than later.
Zero Traffic Fatalities
V2V technology may not be mandatory for self-driving cars to work, but it could still improve the safety of all cars in the future, not just autonomous ones.
This is also the primary motivation behind the DOT's aggressive push. The DOT believes that V2V technology could help reduce accidents by alerting drivers on their dashboards when an accident happens somewhere close by and on their route.
The DOT also wants the FCC to allocate radio spectrum that is clear of any interference to ensure that V2V-enabled cars can communicate without issue.
Ultimately, the U.S. government wants a future of "zero traffic fatalities," which could be enabled by V2V communication as well as other technologies that enable safer self-driving cars.
Privacy And Security Issues
Although the U.S. government's main priority right now is to reduce traffic accidents, there are some other issues that may not be considered in the initial rules, such as privacy and security.
If cars end up communicating with each other all the time, that also means someone should be able to use that communication data to track where a car has been or where it's going. Some local police departments are already being accused of infringing on drivers' privacy by constantly photographing cars' license plate numbers with public cameras and then cobbling together a history of their locations to identify where they've been. V2V communication would track drivers' whereabouts much more easily and more accurately, so it could become an even bigger privacy issue.
The second major issue could be one of security. We're already seeing many auto makers jump head first into adopting new technology without apparently giving a second thought to how that could affect the security of their cars.
For instance, just because it's convenient, they've allowed car unlocking through Bluetooth, a protocol that was never designed for secure communications from the ground up, even if some security features were added later on. Others even update their cars over-the-air through connections that aren't encrypted and could be easily tampered with through man-in-the-middle attacks.
Through V2V technology, all cars would communicate with each other, which means there's the possibility that cars could be hacked through those communication protocols.
These are issues the U.S. government should give more thought to before it tells auto makers how to implement the technology in an unsecure manner.