Efforts to develop and deploy what’s known as “vehicle-to-vehicle” communications technology – or V2V for short – could potentially be jeopardized by a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to expand “spectrum sharing” to foster increased Wi-Fi usage, one group believes.

According to the Association of Global Automakers (AGA), there’s growing concern that introducing a substantial number of unlicensed Wi-Fi enabled devices – such as personal computers, video-game consoles, smart phones, or tablets – into the dedicated 5.9 GHz short range communications band could compromise the integrity of V2V accident-prevention technology systems now undergoing testing.

"Automakers are expending significant resources and effort to develop V2V safety technologies because of the potential to significantly reduce automobile crash fatalities, injuries, and congestion on our highways," noted Michael Cammisa, AGA’s director of safety.

"There is no room for error when it comes to motor vehicle safety,” he stressed. “We want to make sure that the FCC initiative will not interfere with the anticipated benefits that V2V communication systems could deliver."

Cammisa told Fleet Owner by email that what the FCC is proposing is not actually a “sale” of spectrum; rather the agency is considering opening up a spectrum allocated for V2V, electronic toll collection, commercial vehicle clearance, and such to broader usage by the public.

"While we do not oppose efforts to expand Wi-Fi, we are concerned about the potential for interference if these other devices are also using the same spectrum," Cammisa explained. “Because of the nature of safety applications, warning signals from one vehicle to another cannot be delayed or interrupted, which could be the result of interference from other users in the frequency band."

While a dedicated spectrum is one way to avoid the problem, there are also “spectrum sharing” technologies that could be considered as well to help prevent interference issue. “We are encouraging FCC to thoroughly evaluate any proposals for spectrum sharing to ensure that the safety benefits of V2V are not compromised,” Cammisa said.

Currently 10 major automakers and numerous technology providers are working with the Department of Transportation's Connected Vehicle Research Program on a pilot study of V2V systems later this year in Ann Arbor, MI – a study involving nearly 3,000 cars, trucks, and transit buses – with data from this study used by the DOT for make potential regulatory decisions regarding the use of communications systems for crash avoidance.