Toyota laid out plans to start putting short-range communications chips in U.S. vehicles in the next three years, staking out its position in a battle to make cars safer by getting them to “talk” with one another.
The third-best selling automaker in America will put the chips in Toyota and Lexus models in the U.S. 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 nearby vehicles and roadside infrastructure in an effort to curb crashes.
By making the plan public, Toyota is escalating a campaign to get the auto industry — and 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, and with tech giants that are angling for access to the same airwaves.
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. A broad coalition of auto companies, including Toyota and General Motors Co., 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,” said John Kenney, director of networking research at the Toyota InfoTechnology Center in Mountain View, Calif. “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.
But the push for a vehicle-to-vehicle, or V2V, communications rule has stalled amid President Donald Trump’s drive to deregulate and tech giants’ airwaves concerns.