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V2V/V2I mandate may be dropped, the good and the bad

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Rumours are swirling that the US Federal government will drop the proposed mandate that all new cars include a DSRC radio to do vehicle to vehicle communications. Regular readers will know that I have been quite critical of this mandate and submitted commentary on it. Whether they listened to my commentary, or this is just a Trump administration deregulation, it's the right step.

But it's not the end. Cars will still communicate.

The mandate -- which required deployment of an already obsolete technology which presents a security risk for minimal benefit -- may not go through. And while automakers are of course still free to deploy the technology, it is doubtful that they would at a level necessary to reach critical mass in 2030 without a legal requirement, even though some say they would want to do that. They don't need to.

Cars are already being connected via the mobile networks, today at 4G and by 2030 by 7G, whatever that will be. In just a few years, a car without a connected smartphone will be rare. Robocars also will all be connected over the data network but only back to their HQ. Their HQ, however, will talk to other HQs and to infrastructure and provide almost all the benefits sought from DSRC. The number of super low latency applications turns out to be rare. Robocars are built with different motivations, and if they find a way to use direct V2V that keeps them secure, it is not a big problem for them to adopt that technology -- no mandate is needed.

Robocars of course will have an array of sensors that let them reach a very high safety level without getting radio transmissions from other cars. They need to, because many things on the road will never be broadcasting -- children, bicycles, deer, old cars and cars with broken radios, for one. In spite of claims, V2V is very far from necessary for these cars to work. They don't use it now and the major developers have no plans to use it.

I have an essay in the works about the security implications of the so-called "connected car" which I call "The Disconnected Car." I don't mean that cars won't use networking at all -- they surely will -- but rather that this networking must be deliberately limited to reduce the security vulnerabilities, and done only where the value is clear and strong. Stay tuned for that.

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Thank you for your article "V2V/V2I mandate may be dropped, the good and the bad", Brad. :-)

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