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Toyota expresses concern over WiFi expansion

by Andrew Ganz

Toyota is worried that an increase in wireless Internet activity could affect in-car safety technologies.

Toyota told the federal government in Washington, D.C., today that it is concerned that an expansion of the wireless spectrum for Internet use could pose a problem for in-car safety equipment.

Speaking with the House Energy and Commerce committee, Toyota research manager John Kenney said that more testing needs to be done in order to confirm that "no harmful interference will impair the safety-of-life mission for which that spectrum is allocated."

Kenney spoke in Washington alongside representatives from Cisco, Comcast and the FCC.

Specifically, Toyota's concern addresses the impact of a wider WiFi spectrum on features like collision avoidance technologies. Toyota, like most other automakers, makes use of radar and camera-based technologies to scan the road ahead. The most basic systems alert drivers to potential obstacles, while more advanced systems pre-charge brakes or even automatically stop vehicles to prevent or mitigate the impact of an accident.

Speaking on the government's behalf, Nebraska Republican representative Terry Lee told the committee, "There is room for both."

While Toyota isn't necessarily concerned about existing technologies, it is worried about how an increase in the use of the digital spectrum could affect future car-to-car communication necessary as automakers and legislators begin a push toward autonomous vehicles.

Toyota also expressed some concern about passengers using WiFi-enabled devices inside of the vehicle that could interfere with the car's safety technologies.