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Managing Editor

GM to roll out intelligent car alternative

Nov 21, 20053 mins
Network Security

Says OnStar-based V2V technology will be easier, less expensive than government's VII.

GM is developing an alternative to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s intelligent vehicle-to-vehicle collision and congestion avoidance communications system that the automaker says is less expensive and more sophisticated.

GM’s V2V system is an extension of the car manufacturer’s OnStar vehicle-to-service center driver assistance communications system. It uses the same satellite- and cellular-network-based GPS technology as OnStar, yet facilitates vehicle-to-vehicle communications and 360-degree visibility – two features lacking in OnStar.

GM says V2V will be less expensive to implement than the government’s $3 billion to $10 billion Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) network because it uses OnStar’s existing network infrastructure. VII is envisioned as a network of 220,000 IEEE 802.11a and 802.11p wireless hot spots requiring onboard antennas and transceivers in cars, and roadside units at intersections and highway operations and maintenance facilities along interstate and state highways.

The Department of Transportation and carmakers backing VII recently lobbied the telecommunications industry to support it.

GM demonstrated V2V two weeks ago at the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress in San Francisco. Using an antenna, a “computer chip” and GPS, the system is designed to enable a vehicle to detect the position and movement of other vehicles up to a quarter-mile away in a 360-degree radius.

 V2V allows vehicles to anticipate and react to a changing driving situation, and then warn drivers with chimes, visual icons and seat vibrations. If the driver doesn’t respond to the alerts, the car can bring itself to a stop to avoid collision, GM says.

A V2V-equipped car can alert the driver to vehicles in blind spots with a steady amber light in the side mirror. If the turn signal is activated, a flashing amber light and gentle seat vibration on the side can notify the driver of a potentially dangerous situation, GM says.

The system also can help alleviate pile-ups on congested roads during rush hour caused by a chain reaction rear-end collision, GM says. The trailing vehicle warns the driver first with visual icons and seat vibrations on the front and then automatically brakes if there is danger of a rear-end collision with the vehicle ahead, the company says.

V2V also can warn a driver when vehicles ahead are stopped or traveling much slower, or when a vehicle ahead brakes hard. It also can use rear lights to warn the other driver when the approaching vehicle is moving very quickly and a rear-end collision is imminent, GM says.

In 2007, all GM cars will be equipped with OnStar technology for V2V communications, the company says. Equipment will also be available to outfit older vehicles with the technology.

GM also is working on VII. V2V is another option in a line of similar vehicle intelligence projects underway within the auto industry, a company spokeswoman says, while acknowledging that V2V is easier for GM and gives the manufacturer a competitive advantage.

Managing Editor

Jim Duffy has been covering technology for over 28 years, 23 at Network World. He covers enterprise networking infrastructure, including routers and switches. He also writes The Cisco Connection blog and can be reached on Twitter @Jim_Duffy and at

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