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Transportation Wireless Networking

Ford Building Cars That Talk To Other Cars 239

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-does-your-tires? dept.
thecarchik writes "Ford's new system works over a dedicated short-range WiFi system on a secure channel allocated by the FCC. The company says the system one-ups radar safety systems by allowing full 360-degree coverage even when there's no direct line of sight. Scenarios where this could benefit safety or traffic? Predicting collision courses with unseen vehicles, seeing sudden stops before they're visible, and spotting traffic pattern changes on a busy highway. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in October that vehicle-to-vehicle warning systems could address nearly 80 percent of reported crashes not involving drunk drivers. As such, it could potentially save tens of thousands of lives per year."
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Ford Building Cars That Talk To Other Cars

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  • by intellitech (1912116) * on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @07:59PM (#35015544)
    In the sense of network architecture, the only way I would be even semi-okay with this would be if it really was completely decentralized and peer-to-peer. These types of systems which preach safety and security worry me, as they also could lead to large-scale privacy concerns decades down the road, since you know the various Traffic Management Authorities would jump head over heals for the ability to see real-time position of all cars on the expressway. Then a few years down the road, somebody commit's a crime in or with a car with one of these systems, a politician jumps on the new piece thinking it would make a great "brand item" for his campaign, and given a little bit of misguided legislation, BOOM. The main problem with centralizing management and data.

    Though, I _am_ taking this a little far, I hope some of the things from Minority Report [wikipedia.org] never come to be.

    By the way, off-topic, but is the "There was an unknown error in the submission" just there for old-times sake, or did that whole thing get ignored again?
    • as they also could lead to large-scale privacy concerns decades down the road, since you know the various Traffic Management Authorities would jump head over heals for the ability to see real-time position of all cars on the expressway.

      Nothing says that a system like this would have to inform other cars of who you are, just that you are there. And as far as that goes, if you aren't broadcasting some sort of unique id to traffic control systems, they would only know you are say, a car traveling north at 2
      • They plan to this system for virtual toll booths on toll roads, so the id will be unique and tied to your banking info. http://www.intellidriveusa.org/library/videos/poc.php [intellidriveusa.org]
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        But you are already broadcasting a unique ID optically whenever you drive a car in the form of your license plate, and traffic management authorities already have the technology to record license plates.

    • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @08:24PM (#35015770) Homepage Journal

      Exploit 'em.

      Crack 'em, hack 'em, exploit 'em...

      Wipe 'em off, and do it again....

      This will be a blackhat's paradise.

    • by rockNme2349 (1414329) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @08:50PM (#35015942)

      More importantly to me, is whether or not these are implemented using open standards.

      Car-to-Car communication isn't helpful when 10% of them use FORD wireless communications, 10% have GM brand Safety wireless etc. etc.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @09:53PM (#35016294)

        Absolutely. Intellidrive [intellidriveusa.org] is the name for this in the US (previously VII, Vehicle Infrastructure Initiative). The plan is to specify an open protocol, some base DOT-specific applications, and then leave the field open for others to come up with creative uses for it.

        And yes, the car manufacturers are on board with this. They've agreed to implement the minimum system necessary in new model cars, and anything above the minimum system is going to be how they differentiate themselves between products.

        (The system is more than just car-to-car, it's car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure)

      • Open Standards? Doubtful. I'm sure the real engineers will design a great system - which will then be nibbled to death by green-eyeshade wearing ducks, haggling over pennies. Low bid wins again, with chips sub-sub-supplied from who knows where, with who knows what kind of buggy hard code - accidental or otherwise. Plus the unintended consequence of 'making thigs easier for increasingly bad drivers (occupants?) in a mixed-mode system...
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Car makers have time and time again shown themselves incapable of writing secure code.

      Unless the FCC & NHTSA exert FAA levels of scrutiny over Ford's V2V software,
      I can only see this ending poorly.

    • In the sense of network architecture, the only way I would be even semi-okay with this would be if it really was completely decentralized and peer-to-peer.

      The associated research area -- pretty old by now -- is called VANET [wikipedia.org]s.

    • by westlake (615356)

      you know the various Traffic Management Authorities would jump head over heals for the ability to see real-time position of all cars on the expressway.

      They will be getting that ability anyway.

      Satellite technologies, navigation and video. Pilotless aircraft. RFID or something of that sort. There are many, many, ways of doing this. The railroads were working on the problem over a century ago.

    • by bonzoesc (155812)

      Traffic Management Authorities would jump head over heals for the ability to see real-time position of all cars on the expressway.

      They're pretty close already: http://www.southflorida511.com/Cameras.aspx [southflorida511.com] has pretty extreme coverage of highways in South Florida, and it could easily be upgraded to real-time tracking of cars with higher-definition, faster, and more low-light capable cameras. There's already enough camera coverage to do Open Road Tolling [mdx-way.com], by license plate tracking or an in-car transponder in the same lane.

      Relying on each car to transmit their own position correctly isn't something that will work at highway scales; only no

    • There are an excellent series of essays which I found through /. [slashdot.org]. They were written by Brad Templeton (EFF chairman). In the essays [templetons.com] he outlines a lot of the objections to "robocars" (as he terms it) and many of the possible solutions. Centralized management of data need not be in place for such a system to work. His "school of fish" idea [templetons.com] I found pretty interesting...
    • Centralization is not the greatest of my worries. What worries me is that this technology undoubtedly has to talk to the CAN-bus to do its job, and we've all seen how easily the CAN-bus can be made to do someone else's bidding. Like disabling brakes or applying right-side brakes. At 150km/h on the freeway. Good thing the cars talk to each other and share the virus, right?

    • by Stargoat (658863) *
      Since we are ranting:

      Maybe Ford can be vehicles that work. Ford is legendary for its unreliability. I have owned 2 Ford vehicles.
      1. The Ford Fairmont. I pushed that fucker all over the state looking someone to rebuild the Ford Windsor engine. This piece of garbage had a nasty and well deserved reputation of dying at 40000 miles and needing a complete rebuild.
      2. The Ford Ranger. The transmission in that bastard died at 60000 miles while I was 10 miles between podunk and nowhere. The transmission
  • by catbutt (469582) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @08:02PM (#35015560)
    ...about how many lives will be saved, is that they don't take into account that once in place, people rely on them, and change their behavior accordingly. So if I feel like my car is going to alert me if I am likely to hit something, I don't feel so obliged to pay close attention to my driving -- effectively canceling out much of their effect.
    • by Dhalka226 (559740)
      I don't know. I'm not sure the average driver could manage to pay less attention than they already do.
    • ...about how many lives will be saved, is that they don't take into account that once in place, people rely on them, and change their behavior accordingly. So if I feel like my car is going to alert me if I am likely to hit something, I don't feel so obliged to pay close attention to my driving -- effectively canceling out much of their effect.

      Clearly giving people the tools to drive safe does not mean they will be used, the huge number of people who don't use signals at all because.. well I don't know what they think.. "nobody is there anyway?" is evidence of this.

      This sounds like it could be very helpful when used appropriately, and a wash when not.

      • Personally I'd love for cars to administer a mild electric shock if it is determined that the driver changed lanes or turned without signaling.

      • It's more akin to traction control, anti-lock brakes, power steering, and air bags.

        How long until people are speeding along on their cell phone, unworried because "the computer will beep at me if there's something I need to pay attention to."

        Of course, then they borrow their friend's car without these features and wrap their car around a tree.

        Studies have shown that we adjust our behavior to a set level of perceived risk. Safety features encourage riskier behavior.

        That doesn't mean we should just give up, b

    • by westlake (615356)

      ...about how many lives will be saved, is that they don't take into account that once in place, people rely on them, and change their behavior accordingly.

      I would like to see better evidence for this notion than I have seen so far.

      Better evidence that the "dangerous" changes in behavior that the geek anticipates will be statistically significant.

      Ford's crash avoidance system seems to use a very simple HUD - after a time you shouldn't even be conscious of the thing.

    • by Idbar (1034346)
      A system that alerts you doesn't imply you don't need to pay attention to what you're doing (and I hope for the sake of the US, nobody would start suing every car maker just because).

      I recently drove a rented chevy cobalt, and I really didn't like the car that much. But turns out that when the exterior temperature is under about 37F, the car displays a message "Ice possible" on the dash.

      It's as easy as that that now I was even more aware of the road. The way I see it, it's very helpful, but I'm pretty
      • by Sporkinum (655143)

        I recently drove a rented chevy cobalt, and I really didn't like the car that much. But turns out that when the exterior temperature is under about 37F, the car displays a message "Ice possible" on the dash.

        That's the nice thing about how technology trickles down. I just bought a new to me '02 Cadillac STS that has that same feature, along with ABS, stability control, magnetic controlled suspension, tire pressure monitoring, etc.. $55,000 worth of technology that depreciated down to $6000.

      • by catbutt (469582)
        I don't disagree with that, I just think the "X lives will be saved" statements are probably way off, because they don't account for this effect. Humans balance lots of priorities, safety being one of them. When you change another variable, you can expect people to adjust their behavior to keep the same balance of safety vs. convenience/money/etc. There isn't a lot you can do about it, it's human nature, and actually it's quite rational.
  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @08:07PM (#35015622)
    ... mod other divers down?
  • Luckily... (Score:5, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @08:10PM (#35015660) Journal
    It will be completely impossible for either hacked Ford computers, or any other Wifi device operated by somebody who knows hat "MAC spoofing" means, to present inaccurate, deceptive, or otherwise unhelpful information to these Ford vehicles. I, for one, take comfort in that.

    FFS, dudes, trusting the client in a life-critical application? Srsly? Srsly?
    • by Yakasha (42321) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @08:36PM (#35015840) Homepage

      It will be completely impossible for either hacked Ford computers, or any other Wifi device operated by somebody who knows hat "MAC spoofing" means, to present inaccurate, deceptive, or otherwise unhelpful information to these Ford vehicles. I, for one, take comfort in that. FFS, dudes, trusting the client in a life-critical application? Srsly? Srsly?

      Of course its safe. The FCC allocated a SECURE wifi channel for this.

      • That means that I'll have to order my "Virtual Ford Explorer" prank transmitter from the same shady pacific rim electronics monger that I currently order my cellphone jammers from, right?
    • the author (Nelson Ireson) is clueless. This isn't "Wi-Fi," which is a trademarked term referring to 802.11 technologies. Wi-Fi isn't "dedicated," and doesn't run on "a secure channel."
    • by igny (716218)
      Do you have faith in Traffic collision avoidance system [wikipedia.org]?
      • I wouldn't say "faith"; but I forsee fewer serious incidents with a system installed in a relatively small number of expensive and fairly heavily regulated objects, manned by well trained pilots, than I do with a system proposed for inclusion in common consumer vehicles, operated by any dumb bastard who manages to pass a road test(not at all a difficult task).

        It would be interesting to know what, if any, ability aircraft have to reject as spurious signals that are coming from incongruous places(like grou
    • by citizenr (871508)

      Dont worry, Its not like they will connect this directly to Can Bus like BMW did .. oh wait.

  • Are italics working yet?
    Nope!

    So your car knows that Car B is hidden behind Car C. How does the driver get informed? Is there some sort of head's up display or audio clue? All the pictures show is a line of LEDs. Besides, it's quite often the non-car items (pedestrians, debris, icy patches, etc) that are the problem. How does this system inform you that there is a deer on the road behind all that fog?
  • Just like AIS [wikipedia.org], except in cars?

    Except for the fact that the much-shortened reaction time in operating a car versus a ship makes that almost useless, that's a great idea!

  • I don't know why, but when I read this I couldn't help but think of a group of Furbies chattering amongst themselves...
  • From TFA summary: "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in October that vehicle-to-vehicle warning systems could address nearly 80 percent of reported crashes not involving drunk drivers."

    Why does the NHTSA go out of their way to exclude drunk drivers? They won't benefit at all from this system? Really?

    • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

      From TFA summary: "The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in October that vehicle-to-vehicle warning systems could address nearly 80 percent of reported crashes not involving drunk drivers."

      Why does the NHTSA go out of their way to exclude drunk drivers? They won't benefit at all from this system? Really?

      Because the NHTSA knows that the percentage of multi-vehicle accidents involving drunk drivers is significantly smaller than the public thinks it is (most drunk driver accidents are single vehicle accidents -- ie the drunk driver goes off the road).

      And of course, "addressing" nearly 80 percent of reported crashes does not mean eliminating or preventing 80 percent of reported crashes. One could also legitimately argue that by lowering the speed limit, one would also address the same crashes by giving drivers

  • This sounds similar to the ADSB system developed for aircraft.

  • by roc97007 (608802)

    I wonder if you could manipulate the data to make it seem like your car didn't exist?

  • how do the cars now where they are? and what height they are at?

    I don't think GPS can tell that you are in lane 1 and a other car is in lane 2. Also in some areas a car can on a ramp on top of you going the same way or under you.

    What about areas where there is a poor gps signal?

    How many cars can the wifi system handle be for it gets over loaded?

  • by brad3378 (155304) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @08:49PM (#35015936)

    There's few things more irritating to me than waiting for a red light when there are no other vehicles at an intersection.
    All I want is a simple way to communicate to the traffic light to let it know that I am approaching so I don't have to stop. It seems that most automatic lights I have encountered wait until I have come to a near full stop - which partially defeats the purpose.

    Implement this and then BAM - instant time savings and 3+ Miles per gallon savings for every vehicle on the road.

    • There is a section of highway east of my town that is both a highway going north and south and a highway going east and west. It is about 8 miles long and it is 5 lanes(2 lanes going each direction and a center lane for left turns). Since it is a well traveled highway there are a lot of commercial stores on each side. The traffic lights are not just for the cross traffic at their intersection as they are for all the stores in between the lights. If there is no break in traffic for customers to get in an
    • by rwyoder (759998) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @10:39PM (#35016492)

      There's few things more irritating to me than waiting for a red light when there are no other vehicles at an intersection. All I want is a simple way to communicate to the traffic light to let it know that I am approaching so I don't have to stop. It seems that most automatic lights I have encountered wait until I have come to a near full stop - which partially defeats the purpose.

      Implement this and then BAM - instant time savings and 3+ Miles per gallon savings for every vehicle on the road.

      The solution already been invented, and doesn't even require high-tech: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roundabout [wikipedia.org]

    • by hcdejong (561314)

      This is done to prevent you from driving up to the intersection at the posted limit without braking because you assume that the light will go green in time. If it's just you at the intersection that's not a problem, but when two people approach the intersection using the same assumption, mayhem ensues.

  • by LodCrappo (705968) on Wednesday January 26, 2011 @08:54PM (#35015972) Homepage

    ..some way to represent my vehicle as being about 10 feet behind and in front of where it actually is. cut me off, ride my ass, and maybe your car will complain.

  • The IntelliDrive [dot.gov] program has been working on this for a while, and the OEMs are starting to test this on the road. You can look at some concept videos [intellidriveusa.org].

    The RF band is around 5.4GHz, allocated specifically for short-range transportation communication.

  • Are we sure the Sontarans arent behind this?

  • This is a required, and worthy, step on the road to driver-less (or driver-assisted, perhaps) auto navigation for heavy traffic and interstates. As demo'd on mythbusters, fuel economy goes way up (70% saving) if the cars can drive close enough to each other. As this tech evolves, intercommunication will allow for close car travel and hands-free interstate cruising. With distance sensors, infra-red far distance detectors, traffic line sensors, traffic sign readers, gps and mapping, it's almost there alrea

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