In the 1980s, hit television series Knight Rider featured an automobile named KITT, which among a host of impressive specs, featured an auto cruise mode and an Auto Collision Avoidance system. The technology that the fictional 1982 Pontiac Trans Am featured is now likely to be a reality; car manufacturers and communication corporations such as Kapsch, General Motors, Daimler Chrysler, Ford Motor Company, Siemens, Honda, Toyota, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volvo Mark IV, and the Car-to-Car communication consortium have been investing substantially in inter-vehicular communication.
But what exactly is vehicle to vehicle (V2V) communication? Developers of the technology say it is a system that will allow automobiles to "talk" to each other.
V2V or VANETs (Vehicular Ad Hoc Networks) is based on MANETs (Mobile Ad Hoc Networks), with the node being the vehicle. It is believed that a vehicle using V2V can help overcome blind spots, avoid accidents, etc. There has been considerable research in this area, with VANET being deployed for a variety of applications ranging from safety to navigation and law enforcement.
With a 360º communication range of up to 1 km, data exchanged can include a vehicle’s position, speed, throttle position, steering angle, brake status, turn signal status, number of people in the vehicle, etc. Other features include the dissemination of data regarding accidents on the network or breakdown/blockage of a link, route guidance, green light prediction, and parking space availability.
But is there a future for V2V? The World Health Organization reported that there were approximately 1.24 million deaths due to road accidents in 2010. Statistics corresponding to India show that there's at least one death every 4 minutes on the streets of the country and in 2013 0.1 million people died and 0.5 million road accidents reported.
A 2011 survey in the US and the UK found that 49% said they would be comfortable with a "driverless car". A 2012 J.D. Power and Associates survey in the US found that 37% of those surveyed said they would purchase a fully autonomous car. In Germany, 22% of respondents were positive about autonomous cars, 10% were undecided, 44% were skeptical and 24% were hostile towards them. A Cisco Systems survey in 10 countries found that 57% of those surveyed were interested in cars controlled entirely by technology, with Brazil, India and China most willing to trust technology.
However, there are still factors that need to be ironed out. Potential downsides include the extra cost, software reliability and the cyber security that all networks are vulnerable to. Also, till cars become completely autonomous, all the data transmission in the world will not make any difference unless the driver is able to respond in time.
In the US, it was reported that US regulators were close to approving V2V standards for the US market in April 2014, with plans to make it mandatory by 2017.