Personal computers in the 1980s were wondrous, but the true revolution came in the 1990s, when the machines were linked by the Internet. No one could quite predict how useful they would become over the ensuing 20 years.
Regulators are trying to do the same thing for vehicles by introducing a Wi-Fi-like system called Dedicated Short-Range Communication, which allows vehicles to speak to one another to prevent crashes. But its future remains in doubt.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has vowed to propose regulations by the time President Obama leaves office, but the DOT has a history of delayed action. It doesn't help that recalls from General Motors and supplier Takata have kept the agency so busy this year.
A few months ago, the DOT put out a request for information on how to set up its security system. This is worth watching. If the backbone of the so-called Internet of cars does not materialize, the whole endeavor is in trouble.