A couple of weeks ago, I came across this story on Gizmodo about the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) plan to accelerate (get it?) their requirements for vehicle to vehicle networking.
The whole scheme really revolves around self-driving cars, or at the least, cars that can take control from the driver to turn or brake to avoid accidents. Government speculation (or research, or whatever) is that V2V could prevent as much as 80 percent of accidents.
But as they’re planning all of this, the government’s primary concern seems to revolve around radio frequency interference – after all, Wi-Fi is everywhere (even in a lot of new vehicles), terrestrial radio is still around, and cell networks are all over the place.
This likely means that the FCC will be getting involved at some point, which will undoubtedly add to the bureaucracy. But while the government seems primarily concerned with finding that sweet bandwidth spot where V2V won’t interfere with all of our other various forms of wireless communication, there are some other pretty big considerations that haven’t even been mentioned.
The DoT proposal would require all car manufacturers to install v2v communications in cars and other light vehicles. The systems typically feature transponders able to communicate a car’s location, direction and speed at up to 10 times per second to other cars surrounding it, using a dedicated radio spectrum similar to WiFi. The vehicle would then alert its driver to a potential collision. Some systems could automatically slow the car down to avoid an accident.
This is the government, so when they say that “Some systems could automatically slow down the car to avoid an accident,” it’s only reasonable to assume that sooner or later, that will mean “all systems.” After all, the government can’t abide anything it can’t regulate…and God knows we all need the government controlling our cars.
But the elephant in the room that no one seems to be talking about is security. We have plenty of holes in our critical infrastructure as it is; now imagine someone like China or Anonymous or North Korea planting a virus. V2V is supposed to broadcast location, direction, and speed to surrounding cars. All it would take is to confuse those transmissions, or even stop people’s cars altogether, spreading from car to car in the process, and it could shut down major sectors of US transportation.
It used to be that we only needed to run antivirus software on our computers. These days, we need it on our phones, as well, and it won’t be long before we’ll need it on our TVs…and thanks to interference by the government, pretty soon we’ll need it for our cars, as well.
The government will go out of its way to try to mandate every minute aspect of our lives, but it’s pretty obvious that they don’t really have our best interests at heart…and judging by how well they did with Obamacare, even if they are considering the security implications of this mandate, you can rest assured knowing that the government has no idea how to keep V2V secure.