US: NHTSA announces plans for smart car systems image

The outgoing head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says he expects to announce in coming days the agency’s plans on vehicle-to-vehicle communications and advanced braking systems.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland declined though to say if the agency would pursue requirements that all vehicles eventually have automatic braking or be able to communicate with other vehicles.

“NHTSA believes it has the capabilities — and the responsibilities — to estimate the effectiveness of these crash-avoidance systems, without waiting for years or crash data, in order to make regulatory decisions and save more lives,” Strickland told Congress

Some automakers think NHTSA may simply propose adding automatic braking to the advanced features it highlights in its New Car Assessment program.

The sensor-based technology can detect a forward crash with another vehicle or pedestrian before it occurs, by alerting the driver to take corrective action or automatically applying brakes. In May, Strickland said he planned to decide by the end of the year whether to require future car and trucks to have automatic brakes.

Strickland also plans to announce whether the agency will eventually require all vehicles to be able to communicate with others to avoid collisions. Such technology was the subject of a year-long 3,000-vehicle test of smart-car technology in Ann Arbor. Vehicles and streets “talk” to each through Wi-Fi to reduce crashes and improve traffic congestion.

The National Transportation Safety Board wants NHTSA to require collision-avoidance technologies – including forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems, adaptive cruise control and automatic braking – on every car. But automakers oppose new mandates and say they could add thousands of dollars to the cost of a new car or truck.