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Automakers are finally starting to share road safety data

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

This week, Ford, BMW, Mercedes Benz and Volvo announced a major data sharing partnership focused on road safety that includes European service providers and the transportation ministries of several EU member states.

Why it matters: Shared data from connected vehicles on weather and road conditions will ideally improve safety in real-time, and it could represent a major step forward for vehicle to vehicle communication.

What's happening: This latest partnership, overseen by the European Data Task Force, is one of several recent efforts by automakers to collaborate in order to share data.

  • The idea here is to collect data when a vehicle, say, turns on its hazard warning lights, then share that data with vehicles nearby via cloud technology.
  • BMW, GM, Ford and Renault have also formed a research group that aims to use blockchain to share customer data to develop shared mobility options.

Between the lines: These data sharing partnerships will allow car companies to test cloud-based and blockchain technology in use cases that could pave the way for communication between autonomous cars.

  • They also offer opportunities to experiment with transparently sharing anonymized vehicle data, by holding automakers accountable to not misuse it.
  • European data privacy law ensures that customers will be informed as to how their data is being used, but the U.S. lacks similar protections.

What we're watching: If customers experience increased safety and convenience, it could ultimately build greater public trust in AVs that eventually have V2V capabilities.

Sudha Jamthe is director of DriverlessWorldSchool and teaches AV Business at Stanford Continuing Studies.