Special Coverage

Management Briefing Seminars

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Ford Motor Co. and four automotive partners – Daimler AG, General Motors Corp., Honda Motor Co. Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corp. – plan to field-test a system that allows cars to “talk” to each other.

Testing of the vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology will get under way in May, Mike Shulman, technical leader-active safety research and advanced engineering for Ford, reveals at the Management Briefing Seminars here.

“It’s going to take people working together to define a message set,” he says of Ford’s automotive partners. “We have to determine what information has to be communicated between vehicles (and) how accurate it (has) to be.

“This test bed will support forward-collision warning, intersection movement assist, blind-spot warnings, lane-change warnings and do-not-pass warnings. With one message set, we should be able to support all those applications automatically.”

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication does pose potential problems, including questions of security. If signals are to be sent to vehicles that could somehow impede their normal operation, it’s important those signals be legitimate, Shulman points out.

“When I receive a message from another vehicle, I really have to know it’s authentic if I’m going to warn the driver or put the brakes on,” he says. “The concept going around is that cars would have a public key and a private key, so they could send encrypted certificates.

“But we need to make sure all that is computationally feasible,” Shulman adds. “Because I’m getting all these messages from all these cars around me 10 times a second, and I need to be able to decrypt and certify quickly enough to be keep up with the dynamics of the situation.

“This test will let us prove that’s a viable way to go forward.”

The partners also will experiment with infrastructure-to-vehicle communication in testing expected to begin in about a year. The location of the test has yet to be determined, Shulman says, but Michigan or Virginia, where Virginia Tech is a major subcontractor, are front runners.

The trial will include 90 drivers, plus 50 vehicles equipped with the special communications equipment. The cars will be operated for about nine months in the vicinity of some 20 intersections equipped with the technology to communicate with the vehicles and warn drivers of impending collisions.

bpope@wardsauto.com