By David Morgan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - General Motors Co plans to begin testing new Cisco Systems Inc technology that could allow "talking" cars to share radio communication bands with roadside Wi-Fi devices, a GM executive told U.S. lawmakers.
The technology could hold out the promise of allowing Wi-Fi devices to share the same radio band as vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) safety systems without causing interference, he said in written testimony posted to a House oversight committee website on Wednesday.
The automaker intends to deploy V2V technology in its 2017 Cadillac CTS sedans.
"We are very optimistic about a sharing proposal from Cisco that would operate on a 'listen, detect and vacate' basis," said Harry Lightsey, executive director of GM's Global Connected Customer Experience unit. "We have engaged with Cisco and plan to begin testing their technology as soon as possible."
GM submitted the testimony to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade ahead of a Thursday hearing on V2V technology.
V2V technology would allow cars to talk to each other and avoid collisions, using the 5.9 GHz radio spectrum to share information about their relative positions, speeds, headings and braking status and warning drivers of possible risks. Safety regulators believe the technology could provide warnings in 80 percent of car accidents involving more than one vehicle.
But e-commerce companies have pressed for a share of the same spectrum for roadside Wi-Fi services, a prospect that some in the auto industry say could interfere with V2V systems and prevent them from operating properly.
Barry Einsig, Cisco's global transportation executive, who is also scheduled to testify before the panel, said in his written testimony that the company's "The Internet of Everything" envisions a communications network connecting cars and other vehicles with each other and roadside entities including police and other emergency responders.
"Once vehicle-to-vehicle communications are widely installed in cars and light trucks as a safety measure, the private sector and our public sector partners, will respond swiftly to bring the full set of ... benefits to American consumers," he said in the testimony.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in May that auto regulators would propose a rule by year-end requiring V2V-technology in vehicles. He also said his department would complete a preliminary test plan to determine whether the V2V spectrum can be shared with other entities.
(Reporting by David Morgan; Editing by Richard Chang)