back to article EU grabs 30MHz of spectrum for talking cars

The EU has agreed to reserve 30MHz of spectrum (around 5.9GHz) for cars that want to talk to each other, in the belief that doing so will save lives rather than add more driver-distracting gadgets. The idea is that cars driving along a road will be able to spot hazards, such as a slippery surface, and will decide - presumably …


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  1. rhydian
    Paris Hilton

    One possible use...

    ...could involve a button to gently apply the brakes on that BMW/Audi/Mercedes/Mondeo/Pickup truck that insists on driving 3mm off your back bumper...

    Paris: Because she likes tailgating...

  2. Paul Stephenson

    some possible uses

    It could be useful if somehow where the driver in front brakes really suddenly an audible alarm sounded in the next two cars, could prevent pileups (not a perfrect idea but just a thought)

    not allowing two way radio communication would be a good idea, unless it was via a preset system of 'alerts' as all this would be used for in my eyes is a way to offer a verbal indication of your unhappy nature at the other drivers driving to go with the finger you raised in his direction!

  3. Anonymous Coward

    RE: One possible use...

    Perhaps if you returned to Lane 1 when not overtaking you wouldn't find people of a higher IQ than yourself becoming exasperated at your lack of driving abilities and driving closely behind you to tell you to get the fuck out of the way!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Potential for increased safety there...

    This could be used to slow down traffic in an area where there's been an accident or something, however it'll only be effective if *all* vehicles are fitted with it and with either a compass or GPS. If there's a pile-up on a dual carriageway somewhere, it would be good if other vehicles approaching the area were to brake automatically thus reducing the risk of more cars ploughing into the mess. Then comes an old VW Beetle with no such system and the whole thing is rendered useless. Not to mention cars on the other carriageway also being slowed down while there's no obstruction on their side (hence the need for the compass or GPS so only cars going in the right direction get slowed down).

  5. H2Nick

    Bill - thanks for the party line on seatbelts...

    ...but it's billy bollox, especially if you are a pedestrian/cyclist/motorcyclist, when your risk of fatality is increased by adding a feeling of safely/invulnerability to car drivers.

    See if you can spot the dramatic fall in road deaths then, when seat belts were made compulsory...

    No ?

    Thought not.

  6. Luke

    Demolition man

    Perhaps self driving cars are nearer than we all think. Computers couldn't do worse than a good 50% of the drivers in London.

    I am sure the EU is planning on banning swearing, salt, meat, sex etc too at some point in the near future. So average action movie? Or prophetic vision of the future?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    @RE: One possible use...

    If your IQ was higher you would have the sense to drop back if someone is driving slower than you/cuts in front of you/driving badly instead of getting so close that the slightest touch of the brakes from the guy in front sends you smashing into their rear-end

  8. david bates


    I had'nt realised that driving a German repmobile and being unable to judge safe distances, or to work the indicators was an indication of high IQ or quality driving...

  9. John Redbook

    Another use...

    My guess it will end up being used as part of a parking and road toll charging scheme. Plus the added bonus that it will protect us from terrorists and save us from Global Warming.

  10. Andrew Elwell


    ... have already come up with a use for this -

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    another use

    Cars talking to other cars har. More like cars talking to networked lampposts - "here I am".

  12. no name

    actually it is a wonderful idea

    current cars are packed with electronics and the signal, say,

    "car in front of you had airbags activated" could save lifes

    particulary on road full of turns - same case if car in front

    of you start to perform an emergency stop or has ABS activated

    (could be a sign for example of aquaplaning while braking).

    It is right to reserve the frequency while it is agreed a standard

    on what and how communicate between cars.

  13. Wize

    RE: One possible use...

    "Perhaps if you returned to Lane 1 when not overtaking you wouldn't find people of a higher IQ than yourself becoming exasperated at your lack of driving abilities and driving closely behind you to tell you to get the fuck out of the way!"

    What about tailgaters on single carriage ways? What about tailgaters when you are already overtaking other cars.

    The only way to handle the idiot tailgaters is to slow down.

    Well, if they decrease the distance between their and my verticals, the only way to improve their ability to stop to go slower. Thus when you have to emergency stop, they don't hit the back of your car so hard.

  14. Trygve Henriksen
    Thumb Up

    Automatic braking?

    Assuming that the cars have directional antennas, and so can detect whether a transmission comes from the car in front or not, it could be used to automatically switch on the brakes if the car in front suddenly slams on the brakes.

    (Would require a certain pressure. )


    When a car switches on the lefthand blinkers(righthand if you drive in England... )in preparation for overtaking, the driver in the car in front gets a warning.


    Ever been caught in the lane near the middle of the road and had an emergency, and needed to get out to the shoulder?

    Wouldn't it be nice if the cars around you got a warning that you had switched on the emergency blinkers?

    The system might even relay the message from car to car, with a limit of 5 or 10 cars in the relay?

    Or an ambulance needs to get through traffic...

    Yes, they have sirens and lights...

    As if people notice that!

  15. SminkyBazzA

    more possibilities...

    Here are some uses that I've imagined at various times over the past few years:

    * Road state notifications - if the car in front runs over a pothole or a particularly icy patch this information could be useful to following vehicles (think traction control and suspension, not the necessarily interupting the driver)

    * Vehicle state notifications - how long does it take you to realise you've got a light out or a klingon on the starboard bow? Maybe give those riding shotgun (copilot/gunner) some helpful buttons to send preset messages to an other vehicle's log (maybe require several of the same type before notifying the driver safely at the end of their journey)

    * Proximity warnings - having spent the weekend driving around the sussex countryside we regularly approached completely blind corners with dense trees/bushes blocking any view of oncoming traffic. If there's any signal strength/direction ability then they can be highlighted (on the HUD we should have in a few years) for early warning of other vehicles. It only takes one speeding driver to cause an accident, see them coming.

    * Hazard warnings - bung a simple transmitter on every cyclist and onroad-shop-mobility-scooter-deathtrap and you can provide a level of warning in addition to the lights they all use. Right?

    Perhaps not very applicable with today's vehicles and driving abilities but thats not why they're reserving the spectrum now.

  16. bobbles31

    chill out ac

    Drive a Beema ?

    Mines got the 5Ghz radio in the pocket for talking to other coats.

  17. Onionman


    "..but it's billy bollox, especially if you are a pedestrian/cyclist/motorcyclist, when your risk of fatality is increased by adding a feeling of safely/invulnerability to car drivers.

    See if you can spot the dramatic fall in road deaths then, when seat belts were made compulsory..."

    And also see if you can spot the dramatic increase in pedestrian deaths caused by your claimed "Risk of fatality [being] increased". Hmmm. Not there, is it?


  18. Anonymous Coward


    There could be an alert in the car behind you, so they know that the reason you have stopped at the lights/junction is that your car has just stalled, and they should just wait 5 seconds for you to re-start, instead of screaming and shouting and calling you a farquqring wayne kerr.

    There should also be something so the said irritating car behind gets a flashing light, winds down their window, switches off their engine and tightens their seatbelt, holding them in place, so that you can go and kindly shout in their face to shut-up and stop being a twat.

    (and of course something that can then use your phone to call the police and maybe an ambulance too...)

  19. Ru

    Lets hope it is just for information sharing purposes...

    Because what I really, really don't want is a way for my car's brakes to be applied in response to a radio signal. Securing that sort of thing is going to be something of a challenge, and I have little faith that it would be done properly. So some little scrote with a laptop and a transmitter can cause brakes to slam on at amusing moments, or some slightly larger scrote might suddenly find carjacking can be done anywhere, not just at a junction...

  20. Anonymous Coward

    most obvious use

    the only thing that regularly gets signaled to other motorists is an upcoming copper doing speed checks.

    i can haz copper-alert-button in my cockpitz

  21. dervheid

    @ rhydian

    I've found that simply lifting the ol' right foot off the "Go" pedal and applying a swift jab to the "Stop" pedal with it to be pretty effective in deterring tailgaters.

    Particularly if you do it just as you finish overtaking a Petrol Tanker.

    You can almost hear them scream!

  22. Anonymous Coward

    @ most posts on here

    Looks like loads of "I deal with other drivers being tossers by being an even bigger tosser myself" posts to me.

    1) Don't lane-hog or otherwise induce people to tailgate you

    2) Don't tailgate people

    3) If someone IS tailgating you, letting them past is the safest and easiest course of action. Deliberately holding them up, however much of a twat they are, only makes things worse.

    And dervheid, your actions are positively dangerous and mark you out as a prize gimp.

  23. Wize
    Thumb Up


    "I've found that simply lifting the ol' right foot off the "Go" pedal and applying a swift jab to the "Stop" pedal with it to be pretty effective in deterring tailgaters."

    Only works against cars once. The second time you break, they don't care if its real or not.

    Did use the breaks to piss off a lorry on my tail. All the way down hill into the dartford tunnel he was on my bum (and that was the left lane). I was doing the limit and couldn't go faster if I wanted to because of cars ahead.

    As I reached the bottom, I slowed to 30, making him slow down, then picked up the pace again. He lost all momentum and had to head uphill trying to accelerate from 30. Muhahahahaha.

    I would like to be able to send messages to the cars behind letting them know the closer they get, the slower I'll go, or maybe just a 'pi** off'

  24. paul

    Safety increase

    Is simple.

    It is due to the increased price of petrol. People do not drive as much or as fast.

    (Im not talking in terms of numbers of drivers - but generally each persons road behaviour).

  25. Simpson

    driving rules

    1. Anyone going slower than you is an idiot.

    2. Anyone going faster than you is crazy.

    Considering the rules, it is easy to see the the tailgate victims are idiots, and the tailgate perpetrators are crazy.

    Suggestion for the idiots: speed up, or get out of the way. Don't drive the exact same speed as the petrol tanker next to you.

    Suggestion for the crazies: if someone does a "brake check" in front of you, get even closer. If it happens again, smash em (if you have time). Then you can both learn a wonderful, ironic lesson.

  26. rhydian

    RE: One possible use...

    Annonymous coward, have you ever seen my driving? I can clearly say without fear of informed contradiction that I am not the kind of driver who will wilfully do 40mph in NSL areas or hog the middle/outside lanes on motorways/dual carriageways. My main problem is when I am in a stream of traffic in said outside lane crawling past slower vehicles with some Tosser in a company car right up the backside of my own vehicle as he is in such a hurry to make this month's quota of toner cartridge sales he thinks that I can magically make the traffic move faster.

    And as a reply to some that are thinking that automated brake application is a good thing, one word of caution. If, for example, I'm barrelling through a corner the last thing I need is for the car to apply the brakes, as this can cause the car to become seriously unstable. So illuminate a warning light/inform a satnav unit, but leave the driving to the driver....

  27. N Silver badge

    on tailgaters...

    so does this mean youll be able to issue a 'fuck off' signal to them?

  28. Gavin Johnstone

    @ @ most posts on here

    Although derveid's phrasing is a bit much the basic concept is what's recommended by the DVLA/Driving Standards.

    Mine is the one with the anti-tailgating flares

  29. Tim

    @ John R - you missed one...

    Now these frequencies have been reserved, presumably the govt can auction them off for £20bn to squander in it's usual manner while leaving the consumer to ultimately pick up the tab.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ all you morons

    @ perhaps... Perhaps you should buy an Automatic next time - you'll have a job stalling one of those. It will cut down on your trips by Ambulance if nothing else.

    @Wize - Sooner or later when you do something like someone is going to beat the living shit out of you. I have witnessed a lorry driver punch and knock out a young chap who nearly caused an accident whilst overtaking some vehicles (and it was a very close one) a half mile or so down the road at a queue of traffic.

  31. dervheid

    @ Wize, Gavin Johnstone

    "Only works against cars once. The second time you break, they don't care if its real or not."

    That really depends on just how hard you stamp on the 'Stop' pedal.

    As for the other trick, been there, done that.

    And yes, "Muhahahahaha." does rather sum up that little sense of satisfaction at seeing said trucker's ickle face turn purple with apoplectic rage!

    "anti-tailgating flares"

    Now THERE'S an IDEA!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I drive a Mercedes from Banbury to Oldbury and back every weekday. (M40, M42, M5). Many of you have probably seen me (HI). The vehicle has radar controlled cruise control, I'm always a safe distance from the vehicle in front. But boy do sometimes people behind me get mad when they see I'm a good two seconds from the vehicle in front on me! It's not that I hog the lanes because I do not. So here's to more technology in vehicles I say - and to a more enjoyable and safer journey for all.

  33. bobbles31

    Mesh Network?

    But then the BPI will only want to charge a levy because of course we are using the bandwidth to steal music.

    What? Well someone had to get it off bad driving and onto a techy discussion. Its ok, I don't need it. Its sunny out.

  34. H2Nick

    @onion man - increased cyclist & pedestrian accidents when seatbelts made compulsory

    Seatbelts came in 31.01.1983

    Accidents involving cyclists & pedestrians increased from 1982 to 1983

    Pedestrians Cyclists (000's)

    1982 :1,869 294

    1983 : 1,914 323


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  37. Charles Manning

    Perceived risk

    People drive to a perceived level of risk. Safety features would make cars safer if people drove the same as they did without them, but instead people drive faster etc to undo any extra safety.

    When I drive my older car, without traction control, I start to feel unsafe on a particular corner at 40kph. When I drive my newer car with traction control I take the same corner at 65kph. Is the traction control really making things safer for me?

    In icy conditions I slow down and be aware of road conditions. If I had a car with ice warning etc I'd charge along at high speed until the machine beeped at me.

    All these seatbelts, airbags etc just give drivers the warm fuzzy that they are safe and can therefore be a bit more careless.

    Cars are, and always will be, dangerous. I think it is better to constantly remind the driver of this and keep them focused on the driving thing. To that end I propose:

    1) Give the passengers seat belts, airbags etc but ban them for the driver. The driver should feel threatened. That keeps them focussed.

    2) Ban safety gizzmos that encourage people to drive faster than conditions allow (radar through fog, inter car warning systems etc).

    3) Mount a 6 inch steel spike in the centre of the steering wheel with the pointy bit towards the driver. Keep reminding the driver of the cost of screwing up.

  38. Gavin Nottage

    @ H2Nick, seatbelts

    "Seatbelts came in 31.01.1983"

    Wasn't that the day they became compulsory to wear if fitted to the car? So intelligent people who wanted the safety they afford in the event of an accident hadn't been using them before that? The uptake of seatbelt usage was never a step change, it was much more gradual - some people still don't like to wear them...

  39. H2Nick

    @Gavin Nottage

    The uptake of seat belt usage in the UK after it became compulsory (where fitted) was a step change (approx 40% to 90% soon after introduction)

    Some more relevent data here

  40. Andy Watt
    Paris Hilton

    "Existing systems"

    Trafficmaster = shite. Patchy coverage, out-of-date information abounds (I always get two different tales of the M25 from two different blue masts on my way home which I pass within 30s of each other), and their cameras aren't always sited well (M4 J10 -> J8 in both directions has sod-all coverage) - you get told you're screwed on the way to J8 eastbound AFTER you could have turned off!

    This is a great idea - short-range comms between vehicles, with ad-hoc mesh networking, and you could "see" 20m ahead of you in dense traffic and know what was coming up. At the very least, it would make trafficmaster look like the shit under-invested pile of cack it is.

    This new info, combined with critical mass uptake, however, would inevitably create swarming effects and sideroads would become unusable at peak times. We'd see tech-inspired group think taken to new stupid levels!

    My wife and I had a great idea to combat traffic congestion the other day - filing and "drive plan", like a "flight plan", and you have to apply for a slot to use it (this would have to be quick and easy, mind). This acknowledges that we have limited throughput on the roads we have. Our current problem is we have unlimited car ownership in comparison (especially in the UK) - get a licence, and if you can afford the running costs, you're on the road. Once we acknowledge that we need to ration the roads (and not through crap road toll ideas, it's got to be something you have to book to use, not something you need to pay for but can use whenever) and work out how to do it, we can start managing congestion.

    /Paris, even she has a licence... <shivers>

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