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US Department of Transportation will require car-to-car communications systems to prevent crashes

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Lexus Integrated Safety
Lexus Integrated Safety

The connected car got a major push from the federal government today, as the Department of Transportation announced plans for a regulatory proposal that would require vehicle-to-vehicle communication devices in a future year. The proposal comes after a yearlong pilot program by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which will be releasing a report on its findings in the coming weeks. It's just a first step towards the new communication system, but it's a big one. "By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go," US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters.

Automakers have increasingly embraced the "connected car" model in recent years, which would use high-speed, low-latency connections to enable a new kind of network between cars. The resulting network would allow for more sophisticated anti-collision and convoy systems, preventing crashes and easing traffic congestion. Rather than relying on brake lights to see when the car ahead of you is stopping, a car-to-car system could pull miles-per-hour directly from another driver's onboard computer, allowing for a smooth and automatic deceleration rather than a traffic-stopping screech. To enable that technology, automakers need a new set of standards, something that's remarkably rare in the insular car industry. Today's announcement suggests the federal government may end up leading the way.