The system will initially be limited to warnings and local information, but as the tech rolls out it’ll be possible to bring more extensive features on board, such as real-time traffic light monitoring and information on emergency service vehicles. So you’ll be able to see how far away an ambulance is, and which direction it’s travelling in, without getting flustered trying to locate it in your mirrors.
The technology uses a frequency band specially intended for road safety, and because this is localized there’s no data storage involved, meaning there’s no need to worry about data costs or network coverage. It complies with the automotive industry standard for this type of tech, so there won’t be any VW cliques – cars fitted with pWLAN can talk to each other regardless of their make.
The Department of Transportation has already made it pretty clear it wants America’s cars to talk to each other sooner rather than later, so you can probably expect similar announcements from other manufacturers soon.