Artist rendering of connected vehicles on the road Image: U.S. Department of Transportation

Artist rendering of connected vehicles on the road Image: U.S. Department of Transportation

While the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission issued a proposed rule on Dec. 13 aimed at getting vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, NHTSA Communications Director Bryan Thomas confirmed for HDT that there is “no [similar] rulemaking as of yet” in the works for commercial vehicles.

Thomas noted that “research is ongoing and we see great potential” in V2V technology for medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses as well. Per a NHTSA fact sheet on the light-duty proposal, the agency is “working with industry” on continuing research “to adapt the technology for these vehicles.”

V2V is a companion technology for autonomously driven vehicles, including platooned trucks that are electronically linked while operating on the road.

At an October news briefing, Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, said that the lobby was determined to make sure trucking has “a seat at the table” along with the automotive industry when policies are developed to allow and further vehicle automation.

“The technology is here and will grow rapidly,” Spear said on the show floor of ATA’s Management Conference & Exposition. “Suppliers are already creating connected and automated technology.” But he added that trucking is “a different animal than the car side,” so ATA is aiming to ensure the industry’s voice is heard as federal policymaking develops.

Spear then pointed out that the first federal guidelines for the testing and deployment of autonomous vehicles, released by the Department of Transportation in September, were developed with almost no input from the trucking industry. 

Asked on Dec. 13 to review the current landscape for a V2V commercial-vehicle rulemaking, ATA Executive Vice President of Advocacy Bill Sullivan told HDT that a lot has changed since Spear spoke out less than three months ago on trucking being consulted by DOT regarding such activity.

“Chris [Spear] was right in speaking out and, since then, we do have a seat at the table [with DOT],” said Sullivan. “This V2V rulemaking is for light-duty vehicles and it points in the right direction. It sets the bar high in respect to preserving a data spectrum for safety communications. We are hopeful this approach will continue under the Trump administration.”

According to DOT, the proposed rule would enable V2V communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles, “enabling a multitude of new crash-avoidance applications that, once fully deployed, could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes every year by helping vehicles ‘talk’ to each other.”

The rule would require V2V devices to operate through standardized messaging that DOT said would be developed with industry. More specifically, NHTSA said that V2V devices would use dedicated short range communications (DSRC) to transmit data, such as location, direction and speed, to nearby vehicles.

That data would be updated and broadcast up to 10 times per second to nearby vehicles. Using that information, V2V-equipped vehicles could identify safety risks and provide warnings to drivers to avoid imminent crashes.

NHTSA pointed out that vehicles equipped with automated driving functions— such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control— could also benefit from the use of V2V data to better avoid or reduce the consequences of crashes.

DOT also announced that, separately, the Federal Highway Administration plans to soon issue guidance for Vehicle-to-Infrastructure (V2I) communications, “which will help transportation planners integrate the technologies to allow vehicles to ‘talk’ to roadway infrastructure such as traffic lights, stop signs and work zones to improve mobility, reduce congestion, and improve safety.

About the author
David Cullen

David Cullen

[Former] Business/Washington Contributing Editor

David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

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