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DC Insider: Vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology is coming – What does it mean for motorcyclists?

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Vehicle-to-Vehicle technology, known as V2V, is coming. Recently, AMA staff met with engineers at a V2V vehicle demonstration event in Washington, D.C., to learn more about how this emerging technology will work with motorcycles.

The event was hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and eight automobile manufacturers that make up Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership Vehicle Safety Communications 3 – the group that is researching, developing and testing the technologies that form the framework for V2V systems. The car makers are Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai-Kia Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.

What makes V2V work?

It uses dedicated short-range communications similar to Wi-Fi that is combined with the Global Positioning System. This system provides a 360-degree view of similarly equipped vehicles within communication range. Nine indicators are used by the system to help prevent crashes. They are GPS position, speed, acceleration, heading, transmission state, brake status, steering wheel angle, path history and path prediction.

According to the U.S. DOT, information transmitted by every vehicle would be anonymous and won’t include personal identifiers, such as a name and license plate number. Additionally, a sophisticated security system would be in place to ensure communication between vehicles is authentic and can be trusted.

When a crash is predicted, the vehicle will provide a warning to the driver with a seat vibration, visual display or a combination of these indicators. Every automobile manufacturer will have different interfaces on how the driver and passengers will be alerted.

How do motorcycles fit into this emerging technology?

As envisioned, motorcycles would have the same equipment as other motor vehicles—such as an antennae and a module to store the short range communication device and GPS. The rider would remain in full control of the motorcycle. The technology would make it possible for other similarly equipped vehicles to “see” the motorcyclist.

At the demonstration event, AMA staff participated in two scenarios involving a vehicle and motorcycle equipped with the V2V technology. They were the Blind Spot Warning and Intersection Movement Assist scenarios.

The Blind Spot Warning alerted the car driver when the motorcycle entered the car’s blind spot with an indicator on the car’s side-view mirror, a seat vibration and audible alarm. If the driver turned the car’s turn signal on, the indicator flashed with an audible alarm to let the driver know there was a bike in the car’s path.

The Intersection Movement Assist allows vehicles to be aware of each other even if the view is obstructed. The scientists claim that current technology that uses radar cannot be trusted in this scenario because it cannot see around curves or if the view is obstructed. The Intersection Movement Assist system works similar to the Blind Spot Warning system. The only difference is the location of the indicator lights. With the Intersection Movement Assist, LED lights flash on the car windshield the direction the approaching vehicle is traveling.

With privacy and safety our utmost priorities, the AMA still has some areas of concern with this new technology. The U.S. DOT has stated that privacy and system security are secure. We aren’t convinced. The AMA has provided comments to the Federal Communication Commission to bring awareness that the V2V technology may be compromised with unlicensed devices, such as other Wi-Fi networks. Therefore, we asked the FCC for further testing to ensure vehicles using advanced crash-avoidance and vehicle-to-vehicle- technologies are not compromised.

V2V technology presents another potential problem. With vehicular intersections already a well-documented problem for motorcyclists, can you imagine the false sense of security that drivers may have who are relying on advanced safety technologies? They may listen and look for the bells and whistles on their cars rather than look out the windows to actually see motorcycles. Drivers may believe these technologies will protect them and other road users, and may not be aware that these technologies could possibly malfunction at a critical moment.

As these new technologies emerge we must remain vigilant to ensure that motorcyclists, and motorcyclists’ rights, are protected. The AMA is at the forefront in this effort and we will continue to inform our members and motorcyclists about our concerns and possible solutions.

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