Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Transportation Wireless Networking Hardware

EU Reserves a Frequency For Talking Cars 220

Posted by kdawson
from the long-as-they-don't-use-cell-phones dept.
Iddo Genuth writes "The European Commission has recently decided to reserve, across Europe, part of the radio spectrum for smart vehicle communications systems. The decision is part of the Commission's overall fight against road accidents and traffic jams, and the hope is that vehicles' developers will create wireless communication technology that will allow cars to 'talk' to other cars and to the road infrastructure providers."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EU Reserves a Frequency For Talking Cars

Comments Filter:
  • KITT (Score:5, Funny)

    by Daniel Weis (1209058) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:49AM (#24580117)
    But KITT always talked on the human audible range... Can you reserve that? Talk about road noise...
  • by scsirob (246572) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:50AM (#24580123)

    I can see my wife come home saying "Honey, the car has crashed..." And not a scratch on the paint..

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by plasmacutter (901737)

      I remember hearing something about a windows car going bsod and locking someone in for 2 hours in the sun.

      No laughing matter, unless that someone is bill gates, mitch bainwol, or some bastardized clone combination of the two.

    • by fabs64 (657132)
      Doesn't look so bad when you consider the alternative meaning of "crashed". An alternative that is becoming less common every year because of the "computer stuff in cars".
    • Car viruses (Score:5, Funny)

      by Nycran (1282174) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:59AM (#24580163)
      Just wait until we have car viruses. We could have cars that don't start, cars that seek out head-on collisions, and cars that start playing Rick Astley when you're out on a date.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        We could have cars that don't start, cars that seek out head-on collisions, and cars that start playing Rick Astley when you're out on a date.

        OMG LOLCARS!!!

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by gad_zuki! (70830)

        >and cars that start playing Rick Astley when you're out on a date.

        Considering how young most slashdotters are, I wouldnt be surprised if more than one person reading that was conceived in a car while Rick Astley was on the radio. You may partly owe your existence to Rick Astley.

  • And soon... (Score:4, Funny)

    by PJCRP (1314653) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:55AM (#24580133)
    The RI/MPAA will be suing car providers for allowing illegal C2C movie sharing. :V
  • Now you can phish my car...
  • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:56AM (#24580143)

    I think it's only a matter of time before computer controled cars come in.
    Problem is that even if they wait till they can build ones which are 10 times safer than human drivers and have far fewer accidents the first time one glitches and someone dies there will be the technophobes screaming about how you can't trust machines and that the killer cars need to be made illegal.

    • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:59AM (#24580165)

      There's just so much time wasted on the road.
      Link all the cars and let a computer control them and the moment the light goes green all the cars could accelerate at once rather than the first car moving off, then the second, then the third etc. On top of that throw in smarter traffic lights, better public transport systems(since there would be no need for drivers the money could be spent on more busses/trains) and being able to sleep on your way into work and you have a big winner

      • by CaptnMArk (9003)

        >Link all the cars and let a computer control them and the moment the light goes green all the cars could accelerate at once rather than the first car moving off, then the second, then the third etc.

        I've heard in some countries drivers already do this?

        Certainly wouldn't work around here.

        • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:45AM (#24580389)

          Link all the cars and let a computer control them and the moment the light goes green all the cars could accelerate at once...

          I've heard in some countries drivers already do this?

          In Chicago, the moment the light goes green, all the cars start honking their horns.

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by gridzilla (778890)
            All except the car in front!
          • by smoker2 (750216)
            My dad was telling me about his trip to Tunisia back in the 80's. Apparently, it's the same there. As soon as the lights change, everybody hits their horns. So one day he was sat at the lights behind a small moped type thing. Just for an experiment he hit his horn, and the moped shot off into the still crossing traffic ! HA HA HA.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Kickersny.com (913902)

          >Link all the cars and let a computer control them and the moment the light goes green all the cars could accelerate at once rather than the first car moving off, then the second, then the third etc.

          I've heard in some countries drivers already do this?

          Really? Around where I live, all the cars accelerate when the light goes yellow, not green.

      • by Narphorium (667794) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:40AM (#24580363)

        The real problem, as I see it, would be how you transition from a system of millions of non-robot cars to a system where all the cars drive themselves.

        I've always imagined that there should be something analogous to the carpool lane except that it would be for robot cars. A driver would be able to manually pull up beside the "robot lane" and request to join it. Then the other cars would automatically open up a spot and he would be automatically merged into the robot lane.

        Once you have a convoy of vehicles that can automatically drive within a safe stopping distance of each other you can ramp up the speed of the robot lane so that everyone gets to work much faster and they can even read the paper on the way there.

        • exactly!
          I like your car pool lane idea too since being able to travel faster gives people an incentive to get cars with such systems.
          So few people can get their heads round the idea that if you can remove human ego and human reaction times then you could travel much much faster on the roads without any added risk.
          There's nothing wrong with going 200mph down the highway as long as you keep far enough behind the car in front to stop if needs be. Humans however can't seem to do this reliably what with "I just

          • by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @12:20PM (#24585029)

            Fog is no problem until the first car hits something unexpectedly because even a computer with top notch sensors and zero reaction time can't react to a deer jumping in front of it. Even computers can't change the laws of physics and breaking from 200 to zero in half a yard.

            And if they somehow figure out a way to do that, it certainly ain't much better than crashing for the human inside. Decelerating from 200 to zero within a few yards IS actually much like hitting a brick wall head on.

        • by hey! (33014)

          And while you're at it, the same wires or rails that delivered control signals could deliver power to top of your electric vehicle.

          You'd simply pull into the robot lane, and a peg on your car would drop into a kind of ... guide slot thingy, with a pair of power and signal rails on either side.

          Seriously, this wouldn't be such a bad idea for small electric personal commuter vehicles. You'd program in your destination, the car and network would figure out whether you needed a power boost to reach it. Most

          • by asc99c (938635)

            I'm not entirely sure if you're being serious here but I've also had this idea in the past. A lot of cities have a tram network around the centre that shares ground with normal roads.

            It doesn't seem like an insurmountable challenge to be able to join and leave a tram network. I'd love the 22 miles of motorway on my way to work to be automated and high speed.

            I'm not sure what would happen to fuel economy at the high speeds though. If everything is computer controlled, could you drive the cars close enough

            • by hey! (33014)

              You're not entirely sure I'm being serious because I'm not entirely serious.

              It's an interesting idea but I can think of a lot of engineering objections to it.

              With respect to slipstreaming, why not? For that matter, one thing I've thought incredibly stupid for a long time is the fact that vehicle bumpers are not at a precisely standardized height. Why not standardize this, and provide a physical link as between train cars? It's probably not strictly necessary given computer control, but it would give peop

        • by swillden (191260) <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @02:24PM (#24587435) Homepage Journal

          Once you have a convoy of vehicles that can automatically drive within a safe stopping distance of each other

          Also, the safe stopping distance between computer-controlled vehicles can be much, much shorter. Rather than relying on human reaction time to engage the brakes, which is at least a substantial fraction of a second in the BEST case, and well over a second in most cases, computers could coordinate velocity changes with sub-millisecond latencies. Each vehicle computer would have to know the capabilities of the vehicle, and some slack would probably be added for less than perfect road conditions, but stopping distances could be calibrated very precisely.

          That, in turn, would mean that most of the time vehicles would be traveling close enough to draft off one another, which would make all but the lead vehicle substantially more fuel-efficient, even at much higher speeds. Some intelligent ordering based on vehicle size would help even more, though that would tend to place the largest (and generally most fuel-hungry) vehicles in the "trailbreaking" position where their fuel consumption would be high in order to improve the efficiency of the following vehicles.

          I think your basic idea, a robot lane, is the most workable approach. Rather than trying to make cars smart enough to navigate safely when intermixed with manually-controlled vehicles, specific areas of the road would be designated for automatic controls. They'd still need to have some ability to detect manual vehicles in order to address situations where a manual vehicle improperly enters the automatic lane. Over time, as a greater percentage of vehicles acquire automatic control systems, a greater portion of the roads would be given to automatic control, until eventually major highways would be purely automatic.

          Hopefully by that time, automation will have progressed enough that guidance can be added to smaller roads as well, safely handling a mixture of automatic and manual traffic. Over time, the manual traffic would probably dwindle to next to nothing anyway.

          At some point, it's even likely that private ownership of vehicles would decline. Why own a car yourself if enough autonomous taxis are circling the streets, using smarter and smarter algorithms to make sure that there's always one nearby when you need it? Drivers are the largest expense of a taxi fleet, and eliminating them would make taxis very cost-competitive with private vehicle ownership. Or perhaps cooperative ownership would become the norm.

          With fully automated roadways, I think bus and train traffic would decline. Fuel-efficient, automatically-convoying, publicly or cooperatively-owned cars would be cost-competitive with traditional public transport, with the flexibility and end-to-end delivery capability of automobiles. Automated cars would also eliminate parking problems. Even if your car was privately-owned, not a taxi, a public car or part of a co-op, the car could drop you off at your destination and then drive to a parking location, even if it happened to be some distance away. Or maybe your car could turn into a taxi that operates itself for your financial benefit while you're shopping. In any case, a few minutes before you're ready to leave, you'd call the car with your phone, and have it waiting for you when you emerge.

          There are so many advantages to automated automobiles that it's an idea that absolutely will happen.

      • by Renegade Lisp (315687) * on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:51AM (#24580411)

        There used to be an ad here in Germany that showed a long row of cars, tightly packed after one another. Caption: "In principle, that's the right approach. Now everybody please go 240 km/h (150mph) at the same time."

        It was an ad by the German railroad.

        • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:56AM (#24580431)

          Out of interest can anyone tell me why we still have human drivers on trains?
          What exactly does the human do that's so hard do for a machine?
          I mean it always seemed like such a perfect system for automation to me and wages are such a large cost. If you didn't need a driver for every train it would open it up to having far more small commuter carriages buzzing around.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            The human can try to brake when someone wanders onto the tracks. And then get traumatized for life when they fail.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by QuantumG (50515) *

            A friend's father trains train drivers. I once asked him that question. You know what he said?

            SHUT UP!

            • Can't let outsiders know that they've been computer controlled for years :D

              Train Driver 1: Yeah, that Navitron Autodrive system's made our jobs cushier than ever.
              Train Driver 2: You know, this thing. [taps box] With this baby driving your train for you, all you gotta do is sit back and feel your ass grow.

        • You see a race car driver gear with talks about how he is going to do 180km/h in thick fog.

          He does. In a train.

          Or two pictures next to each other, one a traffic jam of cars, the other a single bus on a nice empty road.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Stray7Xi (698337)

        There's just so much time wasted on the road.
        Link all the cars and let a computer control them and the moment the light goes green all the cars could accelerate at once

        If all the cars are linked why have traffic lights? The car will know the route of all cars moving through the intersection, and the server could tell individual cars to speed up and slow down to go through the gaps of traffic (and even to make the gaps). Obviously there'd have to be a significant safety margin, but cars wouldn't necessarily even need to stop in a fully computerized system. As soon as you enter your destination it should have the whole route programmed to within seconds, only making slig

        • Yeah, but the margin for error is huge here. As an IT professional and sometimes field-tech, I can testify to the fact that computers don't always work right. In fact, they fail a lot. With Windows this can range from a minor annoyance to a business disruption... but in a car, it could range from being late for work (repeatedly might get you fired) to dying in a horrific crash. What if the system "froze" and your accelerator went out of control and you went 120 MPH into a building? Despite a lot of people b
          • Also wanted to add that for some people, like myself, driving is fun. I realize that in NYC and crowded places, it's a frustrating way to get from point A to point B, but I live in a fairly rural area. Driving down gently curving mountain roads with a terrific view, feeling the vehicle move just right along familiar terrain with just a small, precise movement of your hand... I'm waxing poetic here, but I wouldn't want that joy taken away from me and the ride turned into something that I just idly wait to be
            • by fabs64 (657132)
              A good argument for keeping some sort of "scenic route".

              But personally, I find driving about as interesting as ironing my work clothes in the morning, and the added spice of potential death just doesn't do it for me.
          • by fabs64 (657132)
            The best way to think about traffic lights is as a critical section in concurrent code.
            Now currently, in the analogue world we're just allocating the entire critical section to one process based on nothing more complex than a timer, I'm sure if you know your concurrency theory you can see how such a system can be greatly improved while still maintaining the same margins for error.

            And then once the computer controls get good enough, you get into the fun place where you can actually start decreasing the ma
          • by CBravo (35450)

            Cruise control is done by a computer too. All throttle related issues in my engine are done by engine management system. The only way I can intervene is via the clutch (but I've never heard of a problem with those 'computers').

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by encoderer (1060616)

          I've honestly been dreaming of building this system since I was 9 years old.

          I'm in my late 20's now, so needless to say, I've given it a lot of thought.

          Implementing an autodrive system like this on city streets is at least an order of magnitude more difficult than it will be on limited access highways.

          And while GPS is very helpful, I really don't think we can rely on a system like this, placing millions of lives every day into its hands, based soley on GPS. I think the road will need to be embedded with RFI

          • by CBravo (35450)

            You also need a response that takes care of cars that break down (wheel breaking off, flat tire, cargo that falls off...).

            For the rest, I agree (and I've given it a lot of thought too, driving 2/3 hours a day).

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by quacking duck (607555)

          If all the cars are linked why have traffic lights?

          Pedestrians trying to cross an intersection?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Mutant321 (1112151)

        You could also avoid "phantom" traffic jams, where someone braking suddenly (even a small amount) can cause a ripple-back effect, resulting in jams for hours.

        I think the militant driver lobbies will resist it strongly though.

        • by k_187 (61692)
          God, who do I have to blow to make that stop. Nothing makes me think we should nuke humanity from orbit more than when I'm driving and crawl to a stop for NO GODDAMNED REASON. Its a pet peeve of mine, can you tell? That and people who won't get over when somebody faster comes up behind them in the left lane.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by bencollier (1156337)
        Unfortunately, the price of gas/petrol/energy is likely to make commuting by car uneconomical long before the control systems are advanced enough to make this all possible. :-(
      • There's just so much time wasted on the road.
        Link all the cars and let a computer control them and the moment the light goes green all the cars could accelerate at once rather than the first car moving off, then the second, then the third etc. On top of that throw in smarter traffic lights, better public transport systems(since there would be no need for drivers the money could be spent on more busses/trains) and being able to sleep on your way into work and you have a big winner

        The solution to traffic congestion is not to be found in any amount of technology. It's called public transport. It's not a coincidence that the cities which are ranked highest by studies of quality of life:
        http://www.finfacts.ie/qualityoflife.htm [finfacts.ie]
        have great public transport systems. Like Vienna, which is ranked 2nd, where most people just don't bother owning a car.

        In case you are curious, the first US city ranks 28th (honolulu). If you want to read the newspaper on your way to work, underground/tram/bus is

        • Oh I'm all for public transport but where I live it sucks so so badly.
          When I was in London for a time it was an actual pleasure to travel on foot, getting from one side of the city to the other was just so easy. Course the londoners who are used to it don't think it's so great but it is.

          You might find that part of what makes people happier is the money, that 10 grand you had to spend on a car? if you'd been able to spend most of it on something else would you not have been happier?(unless driving is what ma

      • by Mattsson (105422)

        If all cars where computer controlled, and the system actually worked as it should, you wouldn't need traffic lights at all.
        Simply have the traffic-control software adjust the speed and timing of the cars so that they pass between the gaps in the crossing traffic.

    • by niceone (992278) * on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @07:11AM (#24580497) Journal
      ones which are 10 times safer

      The problem is that although robot cars could be proven 10 times safer than the average driver, nearly all drivers think they drive much more safely than the average driver.
      • ones which are 10 times safer

        The problem is that although robot cars could be proven 10 times safer than the average driver, nearly all drivers think they drive much more safely than the average driver.

        I certainly do.

    • by squoozer (730327)

      While in recent years we have made some big steps in the right direction to get self driving cars the actual self driving car is, IMHO, a very long way off. The self driving vehicles that enter the DARPA grand challenge (which are probably about the best we currently have) only have to drive arond on empty desert and roads and lets not forget most don't make it to the finish line.

      Factor in other drivers, weird junctions, heavy weather and a million other things we can't even think of and you will see that s

    • by g0dsp33d (849253)
      And if the government wants you they can just route your car to the nearest police station(or off nearest cliff). I for one won't be welcoming our new robotic car overlords.
      • by mpe (36238)
        And if the government wants you they can just route your car to the nearest police station(or off nearest cliff).

        It's more likely to be the case that "the government" will equate to "some disgruntled government official". As well as the terrorist possibilities.
    • by st0rmshad0w (412661) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @07:49AM (#24580721)

      I can't stand the idea of robot cars. I ENJOY driving. I loathe being cargo, I don't even like being a passanger for more than a few minutes. And what about motorcycles?

      • by polar red (215081)

        you can go driving on a circuit, where your inferior(=human) driving skills can't do much damage.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by polar red (215081)

          compare : 40000+ deaths on US roads. on avergae, in the last 10 years, there where only 400 terror-victims, That's only 1% of that number ...

      • by Martin Soto (21440) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @09:34AM (#24581887)

        Don't worry. By the time this becomes a reality, simulators will be quite good. Indeed, you'll probably be able to drive in your simulator during commuting, while the computerized driving system in your car protects the rest of us from your mistakes.

      • Same here. I love my car and my motorcycle, and driving is fun and relaxing for me (well, most of the time). No way would I want to change that experience to one where I'm simply sitting, idly, waiting for the ride to be over.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by AP31R0N (723649)

      It's not just the technophobes, imagine the liability suits. The main reason cars aren't self driving already is not the tech, but knowing that if the tech fails the manufacturer could lose millions.

      i'd rather see cars talking to each other, relaying their speed to the cars around them. Integrate that with GPS navigation and you've cut commute times, fuel consumption and accidents drastically and without exposure to liability. The cars ahead of you relay that they are slamming on the breaks, your car aut

      • liability suits do have a purpose and part of it is to encourage safer behaviour. This would be a clear example of it being self defeating since even if you come up with a safer system you can't install it without suffering liability.
        But on that note if your tire blows out or your breaks fail and it causes an accident who is liable? you or whoever you bought the car off?

        Insurance companies might push it though if they decide that it will save them money.
        Offer cheaper insurance if you let the computer drive

  • by Iamthecheese (1264298) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @05:56AM (#24580149)
    Ad-hoc vehicle-to-vehicle connections that can be hacked without vehicles crashing and are: Fast, Prioritizable, ("my brakes are broken" is more important than "I would like to turn left in 50 meters") robust, standardizable, platform independant, extendable, and don't depend on a vehicle ID. What protocol is that?
    • by HungryHobo (1314109) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:07AM (#24580197)

      Please god let the open source crowd get there before the manufacturers pull a VHS/Betamacs competition between their own protocols.
      Last thing I need is my car crashing because the section of road I'm on only runs a different manufacturers protocol.

      • by Nycran (1282174) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:12AM (#24580225)
        Or worse, we end up with the iCar. Every car will have the same numberplate "STEVE", and will only drive to places on Apple's white list.
        • and will only drive to places on Apple's white list.

          So, in other words, will only drive to Starbucks?

        • Ah but by then we'll all have an iChip in our brains to make us happy with the situation and praise the almighty Steve.
          I'm fairly sure they're beta testing this on the mac fanboys already.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by nacturation (646836) *

          Or worse, we end up with the iCar. Every car will have the same numberplate "STEVE", and will only drive to places on Apple's white list.

          To be fair, the grandparent did specify "Betamacs".
           

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      "I would like to turn left in 50 meters"

      Which never would work anyway considering that very few drivers actually use the stick by the steering wheel for what it's intended. Flashing the headlights seems to be the only thing they use it for...

  • by unikussituation (1327733) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:06AM (#24580195)
    ...HAL. "I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that." ... not until you've cleaned up under the seat.
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:39AM (#24580355)
    I was promised a flying car!

    Seriously, it's nice (and more than a little surprising) to see a government body do something so forward-thinking. We'll probably see fusion plants (in another 10-20 years ;-) before we see anything like fully robotic cars. Every year we talk here about the DARPA Grand Challenge, and that's just for a single vehicle, albeit off-road. Still, we're likely to see incremental uses of this kind of technology, particularly combined with GPS: tailgating prevention, traffic jam avoidance, gapers delay prevention (yay!), emergency vehicle path-clearing, etc. Kudos to the EU for reserving a chunk of the spectrum now, rather than later.
    • Sure, flying cars à la The Fifth Element would be nice, but imagine the amount of accidents what would occur when people have to pay attention to people above and below as well! People cannot be bothered to turn their head a tiny bit when driving the highways as it is now.

      In order to have flying cars, we would have to have the computer-assisted driving - with the aid of cars talking to each other - in place first.

    • I agree with just about everything you've said, except for the DARPA bit :-) The DARPA Urban Challenge worked to resolve some of the automated interaction stuff, and was rather successful. Check it out at http://www.darpa.mil/GRANDCHALLENGE/ [darpa.mil]

  • More information (Score:5, Informative)

    by martimo (1343853) on Wednesday August 13, 2008 @06:45AM (#24580385)
    One of the main european research projects behind this is CVIS: http://www.cvisproject.org/ [cvisproject.org] . There is lots of documentation already...
  • This topic seems to be in everybody's minds these days. I just wonder what new security considerations that need to be dealt with it will bring, especially in terms of (location) privacy. Who will be allowed to "talk" to my car? Will my car identify itself -- and me? Inter-vehicle communication needs authentication, which seems to go along with the idea of RFID tags for the licence plates -- my car as part of my (electronic) identity?

    And, of course, new business opportunities: what about a get-out-of-my-way

    • Well I imagine that identifying your car would be similar to liscence plates with similar penalties for forging your identifier.
      As for the get-out-of-my-way broadcasting gadget you can already stick one on your car, just get a siren similar to what unmarked police cars have and turn it on whenever you're in a hurry.
      Course the police might frown on this.

  • I will stick with my CB Radio...
  • It might be wise to point out that this is probably key to the unveiling of 802.11p [wikipedia.org] support in cars. Now with some official permission [europa.eu], manufacturers can get a move on with some decent systems integration. Maybe we'll soon have road furniture that broadcasts DGPS correction data to passing cars, in order for them to have extremely accurate maps of important signage that the computer systems would be interested in. Equally so, roadside furniture could flash over maps of nearby intersections to vehicles, so t

  • As seen on TV: Talking cars [ravagedigitaal.org].
  • Was there something I missed about this being required for new cars (or new car purchases)? Really, the talking cars could help things quite a bit - I for one wouldn't be opposed to a car autopilot function for my commute. If we let the cars do the driving for mundane drives we could potentially get there faster, using less gas. And we'd actually be able to make use of that otherwise lost time, as well.

Neckties strangle clear thinking. -- Lin Yutang

Working...