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The auto industry said it will pose a risk to vehicle-to-vehicle technologies that need this wireless spectrum

Automakers aren't too happy about a recent U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal, which uses part of the wireless spectrum assigned to vehicle-to-vehicle technology for Wi-Fi instead.

The FCC announced that it plans to free up 195 MHz of spectrum in the 5 GHz band for unlicensed use in an effort to address the U.S.' spectrum crisis. This could potentially lead to Wi-Fi speeds faster than 1 gigabit per second.

The FCC voted unanimously on the topic Wednesday of this week.

However, the auto industry said this would take away previously reserved wireless spectrum for vehicle-to-vehicle technology -- which has the potential to save lives.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which is a trade group consisting of Detroit's Big Three Automakers, Toyota, Volkswagen AG and some other auto companies, is among those who are upset by the FCC's latest proposal.

"[Automakers] already invested heavily in the research and development of these safety critical systems, and our successes have been based on working closely with our federal partners," said the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers. "It is imperative that, as we move forward, we do adequate research and testing on potential interference issues that could arise from opening up this band to unlicensed users and that the commission not rush to judgment before this important analysis can be done."

The Intelligent Transportation Society of America added that "the desire of the commission to move forward expeditiously, while cautioning against putting near-term life-saving innovations like connected vehicle technology at risk in the pursuit of future Wi-Fi applications."

The auto industry isn't the only one concerned with the new proposal. Certain government agencies -- like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) -- see commercial users jumping on bands used by these agencies and posing a potential risk in doing so. 

Source: The Detroit News

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RE: no.
By rdhood on 2/22/2013 4:11:14 PM , Rating: 4
Not to be a stick in the mud or anything, but my car does not need to be talking to your car.

I disagree. The vast majority of traffic delays are caused by nothing more than reaction time. For example, lets say that you have a 10 mile line of cars stopped on the highway. In theory, all 10 miles of cars could accelerate together (limited only by the slowest vehicle's acceleration). In practice, each of the drivers begins acceleration after he reacts to the driver in front of him pulling away. This "stop and go" traffic causes accordian-like compression waves that move through traffic. All of this could be eliminated if cars communicated with each other.

On average, there are appx 320 cars per mile. That means 320x(average persons reaction time). If that time is 7 seconds, it will take 37 MINUTES from the time the first car pulls off to the time the last car moves. With inter-car communications, that time can be reduced from 37 minutes to relatively instantaneous. THAT is why this spectrum is needed. It has the potential to save lives, and drastically reduce traffic jams.

RE: no.
By mscrivo on 2/22/2013 4:21:02 PM , Rating: 2
very nice explanation

RE: no.
By JPForums on 2/25/2013 9:22:25 AM , Rating: 2
It is a very nice explanation, but it is too idealistic and exaggerates the problem. I've never seen anyone wait anywhere near 7 seconds after the car in front of them moves before they move (not even great grandma with her nerve-wrackingly slow reaction time). Look at a clock and watch it for seven seconds. It's a whole lot longer than you seem to think. That said, the premise is still valid even if a whole lot less severe than you make it out to be.

In an ideal world, computer's in your car would be capable would be capable of addressing or avoiding traffic congestion with a zero chance of error, conflict, communications loss, or mechanical failure. In such a case, simultaneous acceleration is possible. However, even this issue brought up here should tell you that will never happen. There is never a guarantee that some form of interference won't cut off communications. Furthermore, until all cars are equipped with such a system, it can't possibly achieve simultaneous acceleration safely. Therefore, a more conservative (less efficient) approach must be taken. Another point of interest is that to achieve simultaneous or near simultaneous acceleration, control must be taken from the driver. There is little difference in reaction time to a vehicle moving vs an indicator telling you you can move. Plus, only the computer would know the safe rate of acceleration. Having control of the vehicle randomly usurped (and by extension returned at random) would create huge problems. You would most likely need to fully automate the driving to prevent wrecks from reactions to sudden control switches.

Until society as a whole is comfortable with automated drivers, your idealistic traffic jam reducer won't work. A single manual control vehicle would require the entire set to play it "safe".

RE: no.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/22/2013 5:06:38 PM , Rating: 1
Oh please....

I'm with the OP. No, just no. Not in my car.

Technology magically eliminating traffic is a fantasy. Anyone with common sense can see this.

RE: no.
By Solandri on 2/22/2013 8:20:53 PM , Rating: 2
Believe it. If you count the number of cars passing a point on a highway, there are three ways to increase it:

- add more lanes
- increase the average speed
- decrease the space between cars

The last two are contradictory due to human reaction time. Which is where technology comes in. If tech can enable decreased space between cars with increased speeds, you reduce traffic jams.

Here's a video showing how dramatic an impact human reaction time has on disrupting the smooth flow of traffic.

RE: no.
By Reclaimer77 on 2/22/2013 9:48:33 PM , Rating: 2
You realize most Americans, by a huge margin, do not live in heavy traffic areas right?

If tech can enable decreased space between cars with increased speeds, you reduce traffic jams.

As a blanket statement this is false. "Traffic jams" are not universally caused by slight delays in reaction time and spacing.

Even if you reduced these factors to their smallest realistic number, eventually you would still reach a point where there are too many vehicles for a given space. IE, you need more lanes and alternative bypasses.

While this technology might benefit a small number of people, if it's even reliable enough to be feasible, the best solution for everyone is good road designs and highway expansions.

RE: no.
By chromal on 2/22/2013 6:24:27 PM , Rating: 1
The "stop and go" accordian pattern you describe doesn't require a world in which every car auto-drives and communicates with the cars up and down the road in some mesh network-- it just requires drivers to pay attention and drive appropriately. Average the speed of the car in front of you so that he starts going again just as you approach his bumper, etc.

Anyway, it's unrealistic to expect every car on the road to be self-driving and participating in this network, if only because of people like me. I don't even want my car shifting the transmission for me, much less driving itself. Anyway, attentive drivers are not the problem.

RE: no.
By dbwells on 2/22/2013 6:54:53 PM , Rating: 2
This "stop and go" traffic causes accordian-like compression waves that move through traffic. All of this could be eliminated if cars communicated with each other.

The main reason a line of cars cannot all accelerate at once has little to do with reaction time and everything to do with safety. Cars cannot safely travel at high speeds without significant space between them, and no technology can change those physics. A line of cars takes time to move because it takes time to restore the gaps which were destroyed by the stopping process.

If we all agreed to leave 30 to 100 feet (depending on the desired speed) between us and the car in front of us, even when stopped, then yes, we could all accelerate together. But, at the end of the day, you haven't gained anything other than confusing or angering the people behind you.

RE: no.
By tng on 2/22/2013 6:56:09 PM , Rating: 2
All of this could be eliminated if cars communicated with each other.
Sounds nice on paper I guess. I on most even months I spend allot of time in just such traffic as you describe and I find your explanation of it a little to simple for real life. It really does not take into account the couple of cars in the line that have faulty tranceivers and can't connect up, or the car that can but due to poor maintenance looses connection with the cars around it (the woman who owns the car is wondering why her check engine light is on).

Also what I don't see here is any remedy for real world interference. That one signal that your car misses due to a lightning strike at the right moment and you don't slow down in time.

I am sure that these things will be worked out, but I will not be one of the people to buy into the first gen of this, let other people be the real world crash dummies, so to speak.

RE: no.
By Solandri on 2/22/2013 8:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
Also what I don't see here is any remedy for real world interference. That one signal that your car misses due to a lightning strike at the right moment and you don't slow down in time.

This is the psychological hurdle self-piloted cars have to get over. Just like with nuclear power and airliners, even if their average track record is safer than the alternatives, people will still consider it outrageous when it fails and insist on returning to the older more dangerous system "because of safety".

RE: no.
By tng on 2/22/2013 11:29:01 PM , Rating: 1
nuclear power
Yeah, nobody in Japan died or will die in the future because of the consequences of nuclear power.
Yes it is really safe compared to other forms, but people have and will continue to die in accidents.

All things considered, yes there are benefits to this idea, but I am just pointing out that in the early days of aviation, there were allot more accidents than today.

RE: no.
By wordsworm on 2/23/2013 1:26:33 AM , Rating: 2
Nuclear power's true issue will always be with waste disposal. How can we build containers which can outlast the waste?

I don't see the comparison here at all. What kind of catastrophic accident could a computer cause that a human cannot? An airplane crash can kill hundreds. If a computer-controlled vehicle crashes, I don't see how it would be something spectacular like a nuclear melt down either.

In any case, I for one would welcome the chance to take a nap during the commute... I could be making mad love to my wife in the back of the van while it slowly oozes its way into that slurm hole known as Vancouver. Really, who here can honestly say they'd rather drive a car than watch a show, play a game, play nooky with the mrs, etc.?

RE: no.
By Kurz on 2/23/2013 11:35:19 AM , Rating: 2
LFTR google it.
Watch it on Youtube.

Spread the word.

RE: no.
By tng on 2/23/2013 12:39:32 PM , Rating: 2
I was just saying that every tech has it's risks. The problem is that with a traffic control system like is predicted above, there may be no way to evaluate all of the potential failure points without turning the driving public into crash dummies...

In the situation proposed by the gentleman above, a mile long line of cars, all starting and stopping at the same time, has so many issues that need to be addressed.

First not all cars accelerate at the same rate so how will the control compensate for that? The same is true for braking, how much space does the control leave in front of you to stop? If you take into account the spaces between cars that the system will need to compensate for this, suddenly there are allot fewer cars in that "mile long line of cars".

The system is suddenly not as efficient as we would like to believe.

RE: no.
By Coldfriction on 2/23/2013 1:19:31 PM , Rating: 3
You realize with automated traffic the traffic jam wouldn't form to begin with right? It's an attempt to show the potential, not how reality would look.

RE: no.
By tng on 2/23/2013 4:56:38 PM , Rating: 2
You realize with automated traffic the traffic jam wouldn't form to begin with right?
Yes, I get it, but I work on some very complex systems that are interconnected with other complex systems through complex processes.

This week I spent hours finding that the root cause of an issue we have had this month is a change that we made in June of last year. There were consequences that have just now propagated through a series of systems, came around and bit us in the a$$.

I am not for or against this type of system, I think that on certain roads this would help, but not on all roads. I also think that this is more complex than just my car talks to your car, or my car taking commands from an integrated system.

RE: no.
By Coldfriction on 2/23/2013 5:26:16 PM , Rating: 2
The existing road system is subject to children throwing rocks at cars, idiots tossing mannequins off of overpasses, drunks, mechanical failures, people on phones, etc. You hear about all the falicies of the existing road system all the time. A terrorist could really just drop spikes out their window to completely shut down traffic on a busy road for hours. Things are always easy to break for people who want to; society exists on a certain level of trust that the vast majority of people don't want to. You think the minor issues with an automated road would be any worse than what we've got? Fear has stopped more great changes in the world than anything else ever could hope to.

RE: no.
By tng on 2/23/2013 8:11:25 PM , Rating: 2
You think the minor issues with an automated road would be any worse than what we've got?
Point taken.

RE: no.
By kyuuketsuki on 2/25/2013 11:24:57 AM , Rating: 2
And how the hell would an automated cars/roads do anything at all about rocks being thrown at cars, people tossing debris onto overpasses, mechanical failures, or a "terrorist" throwing spikes out their car window? All those things are in fact one of the major issues with an automated system: making it react appropriately to unexpected situations.

RE: no.
By Coldfriction on 2/25/2013 11:59:28 AM , Rating: 2
You miss the point. There is no zero risk system. The closest thing to a zero risk system is a maximum security prision. The question isn't whether there is risk or not, it's whether the system is better than another system at managing it.

And making automated cars that talk to each other negates a lot of the crazy issues that happen with the things I listed. No crazy reaction from drivers is every bit as good as drivers being able to react to crazy scenarios. Vehicular accidents are rarely caused by sound judgement; rather they are caused by over-reaction. No automated car will swerve in a crazy way for a dummy and cause a multiple car and multiple death pile up. Automated systems allow for sane deceleration upon the detection of a hazard by ONE vehicle if that vehicle can communicate to the rest around it. Currently cars do not communicate hazards beyond brake lights. Automated cars mitigate more risk for the scenarios provided due to a computer not reacting as poorly as a person to unexpected events.

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