The future of automotive technology has been heading towards connected cars for a while now. It's a prospect that's attracted a plethora of technology companies, both in and out of the automotive industry. This variety and diversity of companies is helping to create innovative steps forward; this year alone we've seen cars that drive themselves, cars that are actively aware of other vehicles on the road and roads that glow in the dark.
It has been proposed that the next big development, however, could be automated law enforcement on the road - creating integrated autonomous systems that can issue speeding tickets without the use of Police officers in patrol cars.
Currently being worked on by the US federal government, this technology would utilise the vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications of the 'connected car era' to monitor the locations and speeds of individual cars with almost perfect accuracy.
Creators of the V2V and V2I communication systems maintain that such systems were never created to support such use and say that they don't carry enough data to tag speeding calculations to an individual driver. Officials at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) disagree, however, and believe that V2V and V2I will be easy to adapt, for law enforcement purposes, in the not too distant future.
The issue of privacy has been the biggest concern for both consumers and the agencies creating the technology. Privacy has already been an issue regarding technology like this in the past; the advent of license plate readers and in-car GPS can already
be used to track a car across the USA. The fear is that automated law enforcement systems, using V2V and V2I, could reduce this privacy even more.
Another concern is around whether or not road-goers will accept the technology; it seems almost inevitable that systems like this would eventually monitor all roads. Jonathan Atkins, executive director of the Government Highway Safety Association mentions that “monitored areas would need to be publicized in much the same way as current camera monitored areas are today."
It seems that there is still a lot of research and development required before this technology comes into fruition, however; once such systems are in use, they could help to create roads that benefit from fewer accidents and less traffic.