Ford Snubs V2V Tech in Autonomous Vehicles

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Ford Motor Co. steers clear of integrating vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology into its autonomous vehicles, Auto Finance News has learned.

The company made the decision despite the U.S. Department of Transportation’s notion that the technology could prevent hundreds of thousands of crashes each year.

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications is a system designed to transmit information between vehicles and other objects on the road in real-time.

In December, the DOT proposed a rule to advance the deployment of connected vehicle technologies throughout the U.S. light vehicle fleet. The DOT has not proposed a rule for V2V in autonomous vehicles yet. However, given the regulatory hurdles that could occur with autonomous and human-operated vehicles sharing public roads, the rulemaking could be imminent.

Ford, though, does not seem concerned — for now — with implementing V2V communications technology in its autonomous vehicles, which the automaker predicts will be deployed by 2021.

“In the foreseeable future, there will be a mix of both human-operated and autonomous-operated cars on the road, and cars that do not have V2V technology once that rolls out,” Alan Hall, communications manager for Ford’s mobility technology, autonomous vehicles, research and innovation, told Auto Finance News.

To that end, Ford is designing its autonomous vehicles to operate independently, without the need for V2V, Hall said. Ford plans to use LIDAR, radar, and cameras in order for the vehicle to be able to sense its environment and have the capability to operate with human-driven and unconnected vehicles on the road, Hall said.

But will that be enough to satisfy the DOT?

“Ultimately, if vehicle-to-vehicle technology gets rolled out, or the government mandates it, we would definitely utilize that as another source of data input,” Hall said. “But we couldn’t rely on it because there will be still be cars on the road without that technology and we would need to be able to sense those as well.”

There is a lot to be learned from V2V, Rick Walwender, head of corporate law and the autonomous vehicle team at Law Miller Canfield, told Auto Finance News. “What the government and industry is concerned about is the cyber security aspect of it, and the government has to come out and promulgate all these standards in terms of communication capability. Once that’s done, then I think it gives path for somebody to start seriously working on deploying it in specific vehicles.”

When it comes to a morality issue between an autonomous vehicle and human-operated vehicles, “those are discussions that we are having with industry leaders … because we believe those are questions that need to be solved and aligned amongst the industry,” Ford’s Hall said. “It’s not something that can be solved for on an individual basis — meaning, Ford has a different solution than every other automaker out there.”

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