Toyota to get cars ‘talking’

2017 Toyota Corolla

Toyota has announced they will start putting short-range communications chips in US vehicles in the next three years, in order to make cars safer by getting them to “talk” with one another.

The American car manufacturer will put the chips in Toyota and Lexus models in the US starting in 2021, said Andrew Coetzee, group vice president of product planning for North America. The technology will enable cars to send data on their location and speed to surrounding vehicles and roadside infrastructure to curb crashes.

Toyota is going public with the campaign in order to get the rest of the auto industry and industry regulators to embrace the technology.

It’s also headed for a clash with phone companies that would rather see carmakers embrace 5G cellular networks to accomplish the same task. 

“The dedicated short-range communications systems Toyota will start using, known as DSRC, send information back and forth to one another several times a second and can alert drivers to potential collisions before they happen,” said Bloomberg.  A broad coalition of auto companies, including Toyota and General Motors, urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in November to support a “talking cars” mandate for all new passenger vehicles by 2023.

 “We need to make a technology choice when there’s no regulatory requirement in place,” John Kenney said to Bloomberg, director of networking research at the Toyota InfoTechnology Center in Mountain View, California. “What we’re doing today is speaking up and saying ‘We will deploy DSRC technology and we encourage other automakers to do the same.’”

When the Transportation Department released a proposal for the requirement in December 2016, regulators under the Obama administration estimated the technology could prevent or mitigate 80 percent of vehicle crashes not influenced by driver impairment.

Coetzee said he’s not convinced automakers should share the spectrum band with cable or tech companies.

“We need to make sure we’re got super, super reliable and very quick transmission speeds,” Coetzee said to Bloomberg. “More testing will be needed to show you can do this” while sharing airwaves.

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