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.

Go deeper

Biden: The next president should decide on Ginsburg’s replacement

Joe Biden. Photo: Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Joe Biden is calling for the winner of November's presidential election to select Ruth Bader Ginsburg's replacement on the Supreme Court.

What he's saying: "[L]et me be clear: The voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider," Biden said. "This was the position the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That's the position the United States Senate must take today, and the election's only 46 days off.

Trump, McConnell to move fast to replace Ginsburg

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 30,393,591 — Total deaths: 950,344— Total recoveries: 20,679,272Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 6,722,699 — Total deaths: 198,484 — Total recoveries: 2,556,465 — Total tests: 92,163,649Map.
  3. Politics: In reversal, CDC again recommends coronavirus testing for asymptomatic people.
  4. Health: Massive USPS face mask operation called off The risks of moving too fast on a vaccine.
  5. Business: Unemployment drop-off reverses course 1 million mortgage-holders fall through safety netHow the pandemic has deepened Boeing's 737 MAX crunch.
  6. Education: At least 42% of school employees are vulnerable.