Popular Science features an article on “The Future of the Car: Behold the All-Seeing, Self-Parking, Safety-Enforcing, Networked Automobile” where one of the emerging technologies discussed is Vehicle Safety Communication technology:
The next giant leap in sensing will be radio networking that enables cars to exchange information. “Communication [between cars] will be like an additional sensor,” says Ralf Herrtwich, director of vehicle IT research at DaimlerChrysler. Car-to-car communication will ensure that your automobile is impeccably informed about road conditions ahead. And this extra “sensor” will have almost unlimited range, because information can be instantaneously relayed from one vehicle to the next, to the next, and so on.
Along with the many safety benefits of such vehicle-to-vehicle ad-hoc communication networks, certain privacy conerns emerge, which the article does mention, if only briefly:
…your vehicle can upload its position to road authorities, so they can use variable road tolls as a traffic management tool—raising the price on busy stretches during rush hours. How do you like the notion that someone somewhere always has the position (and speed) of your car logged?
This is a significant concern: the design of these vehicle safety technologies might change the existing norms of personal information flow in the context of highway travel. My two recent papers discuss this concern, and point to the need for value-sensitive design of these technologies to protect one’s privacy in public.