Car Talk

The US Department of Transportation is recommending mandatory vehicle-to-vehicle communication for all new cars and trucks through a short-range wireless technology, as part of a plan to reduce the number of road accidents.

The agency’s recommendations come after a pilot program under which some 2,800 cars, trucks, and transit vehicles (and some infrastructure) was equipped with wireless connected vehicle devices and let loose on public streets to test safety applications using dedicated short range communications (DSRC) technology. The model deployment was designed to determine the effectiveness of the technology at reducing crashes.

Using DSRC, vehicles were able to tell when another vehicle with connected vehicle technology moved into the immediate driving area. Conducted from 2012 to 2013, the one-year model deployment, held in Ann Arbor, MI, was the first test of this magnitude of connected vehicle technology in a realworld, multimodal operating environment.

The implications for electronics manufacturers are profound. Automotive already has been a major (bad pun alert #1) driver of the North America electronics industry since the 2008 (bad pun alert #2) crash. To add all these sensors and boards would be tremendous from an assembly point of view.

That said, the opportunities are equally ripe for mischief. Maintaining the security over these networks is critical — and likely impossible. Even today, the Bluetooth on my wife’s car can recognize my phone from two car lengths behind. And if you can digitally see it, you can hack it. And that doesn’t begin to touch on the added capability for government to monitor the movement of its citizens and residents.


Just one more thing to be excited — and nervous — about.

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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow