USA’s FCC permits hot-car radar sensors to save children

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The USA’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has paved the way for new in-car radar-based technology to monitor for children left in dangerous, hot cars and trigger alerts that could save lives.

The FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology granted six waiver requests from equipment manufacturers and automakers to supply and operate these in-cabin radars in the 60 GHz spectrum band.

“These waivers from the Federal Communications Commission will enable important in-vehicle sensing technology to further the auto industry’s goal of saving lives,” said John Bozzella, president and CEO of industry association Auto Innovators. “We appreciate acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel making this a priority and allowing use of this spectrum to deploy innovative safety technologies, including technologies that can help detect a child left in a vehicle.

“As part of its commitment to a safer and smarter future, the industry is working to reduce pediatric heatstroke fatalities through advanced technology, public awareness efforts, and a 2019 commitment to equip vehicles with rear seat reminder systems by Model Year 2025.”

Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chair, FCC

“Technology is providing new ways for families to help keep their children safe,” said Rosenworcel. “That’s why I’m proud that the FCC can play a role in protecting kids from the avoidable danger of deadly heatstroke. With summer fast approaching, these waivers are a first step toward implementing a more permanent policy framework for promoting innovations like these life-saving auto safety technologies.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, children dying from heatstroke in cars, either because they were left there or became trapped, has increased in recent years. There were 52 and 53 such deaths in 2019 and 2018 respectively – with far more suffering significant and permanent injury. The majority of these deaths are due to someone forgetting a child in the car. In 2019, more than 20 leading automobile manufacturers committed to implementing rear seat reminder systems as standard equipment in their vehicles no later than the 2025 model year.

The FCC formally granted the waiver requests of Brose North America, IEE Sensing, Infineon Technologies Americas, Tesla, Valeo North America, and Vayyar Imaging. The actions grant limited waivers of the agency’s Section 15.255 technical and service rules for unlicensed operation in the 57-71 GHz band. The FCC’s technology and engineering experts determined that the applications receiving the waivers constitute a reasonable and narrowly crafted exception to these rules.

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).