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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Promising technology that aims to prevent cars from crashing would be "severely impaired" by interference from a WiFi hotspot, says Ford Motor Co., which is urging the Federal Communications Commission not to reallocate a chunk of radio spectrum reserved for vehicle safety.

Why it matters: Interference from a WiFi signal that might keep children occupied with video games in the back seat could potentially delay the delivery of a basic safety message to their parent's car at precisely the moment it's needed.

The big picture: In order to meet growing demand for WiFi service, the FCC wants to reallocate a portion of the 5.9 GHz band set aside in 1999 for vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication.

  • Its proposal would take 45 of the 75 MHz frequencies of so-called "safety spectrum" for WiFi, leaving 30 MHz for connected cars.
  • That 30 MHz would be further divided between an older V2V technology called dedicated short range communication (DSRC) that a few automakers are using, and newer cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X), which Ford and others support.

What's happening: In comments filed Monday on the FCC's proposed rule-making, Ford included test results of real-world scenarios to argue against the spectrum-sharing.

  • Ford selected an accident-prone intersection in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and then ran field and lab tests to show what effect a WiFi device operating on the contested frequencies would have on the car's ability to receive safety-critical messages.

What they found: WiFi interference caused an "unacceptable outage of critical basic safety message communications preventing the C-V2X system from performing as intended."

  • "The fact of the matter is there’s just a lot of leakage outside the bands they’re operating in," Don Butler, Ford's executive director for connected vehicles and services, told reporters.
  • Ford said the FCC should also ensure there's enough buffer in the spectrum to support future autonomous vehicles and to eventually transition to 5G technology.

Editor's note: This piece was clarified to reflect that all of the 5.9 GHz band is in use for auto safety.

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A new book makes the case that sperm counts have been falling for decades — and a major reason is chemicals in the environment that disrupt the body's hormonal system.

Why it matters: The ability to reproduce is fundamental to the viable future of any living thing. If certain chemicals are damaging our fertility over the long term, human beings could end up as an endangered species.

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Black churches become vaccine hubs

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Black pastors have a new job on their plates during COVID-19: encouraging skeptical congregants to get vaccinated.

Why it matters: “There’s distrust in our community. We can’t ignore that,” Rev. James Coleman of D.C.'s All Nations Baptist told AP.

Biden names USPS board of governors nominees, as Democrats put pressure on DeJoy

United States Postal Service Postmaster General Louis DeJoy at a Feb. 24 committee hearing. Photo: Graeme Jennings/pool/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday nominated a former postal union lawyer, a vote-by-mail advocate, and a former deputy postmaster general to sit on the Postal Services' Board of Governors.

Why it matters: The nominations, which require Senate confirmation, come as some Democrats call for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy's ouster and others push for Biden to nominate board members to name a new postmaster general.

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