The proposed federal mandate for vehicle-to-vehicle communications may be on life support, but carmakers and cities are using grass-roots efforts at forums and symposiums around the country to get the technology working without federal government backing.
Could it work? It would take massive industry coordination, while also not running afoul of antitrust laws, but it's possible, experts say.
"The regulation is just a small piece of this puzzle," said Hideki Hada, an executive engineer in technical strategy at Toyota Motor North America. "Technology is developed in many areas in the United States by the infrastructure providers. The regulation will definitely help, but the ground is set so companies can start preparing their projects."
Vehicles that can communicate safety and traffic information with each other and surrounding infrastructure are viewed as the next leap in reducing traffic accidents. The National Safety Council estimates there were 40,100 U.S. motor vehicle deaths in 2017, the second straight year the total has been around 40,000 after not reaching that level since 2007.
Advocates of connected cars are confident a proposed rule under review by NHTSA that would mandate integration of dedicated short-range communications, or DSRC, the standard underlying vehicle connectivity, will ultimately be approved, but argue it may not be necessary to begin introducing "talking cars." But integration of the technology into vehicles has slowed because of the emergence of cellular technology that may provide greater benefits to a wider geographic area and eventually take advantage of 5G cellular networks.