Toyota Worries That WiFi Expansion Could Endanger Safety

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Citing safety concerns, the Toyota Motor Corporation has asked the government to delay a plan to expand internet access until such time that research can be conducted into how this would affect the safety of automobiles using the wireless spectrum allotted for vehicle safety functions.

Development is underway on vehicles that can communicate with infrastructure and with one another via wireless technology, and with such systems on the horizon, a certain frequency was designated for automobiles to use exclusively.  Now, though, the Federal Communication Commission wants to expand usage of this frequency to other systems, something that some automakers like Toyota think would be a bad idea.

Earlier this week, the California-based Toyota Info Technology Center’s principal research manager was in front of the House Energy and Commerce Panel to speak on the issue.  He painted a picture of vehicle safety systems being disabled when they pass by coffee shops that happen to be using the same WiFi.  He also voiced concern that a move to broaden WiFi access would mean that a child’s internet usage in the backseat could similarly undermine the abilities of the vehicle’s onboard communication technologies.

This issue will be of particular importance as support for Vehicle to Vehicle Communication technology continues to grow.  There are a number of safety issues that remain to be worked out before we enter this new era of connectivity.