VW adopts WLANp wireless protocol to network all its cars in 2019

VW is betting big on connected cars by making all of its cars capable of communicating via WLANp.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
2 min read

wants to let you know that it has its eye on the future, specifically where vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-environment communication is concerned. You see, VW has committed to having all of its production vehicles adopt the WLANp (aka IEEE 802.11p) wireless communication protocol as standard by 2019 for use in Europe.

Why is that important? Because having one large manufacturer adopt a standard that allows cars to communicate with one another will likely snowball into other manufacturers adopting the same standard, which in turn will enable things like platooning and make autonomy more feasible and easier to implement.

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By the 2020 model year, all European VWs will be able to communicate via the WLANp protocol.

Antuan Goodwin/Roadshow

WLANp is especially cool because it has already been rigorously tested for security and reliability, and the technology behind it isn't particularly new. In fact it's related to the Wi-Fi that you're probably using to read this article. This is why VW can get it into production so quickly. Essentially, the protocol will allow vehicles within approximately 1,500 feet of each other to communicate information regarding road and traffic conditions and also to communicate with smart traffic-control devices like lights and signs to help optimize traffic patterns.

"All the conditions for the rapid introduction of this technology have been met. With WLANp networking, which has been thoroughly tried and tested and is now ready for use, we will significantly improve road safety throughout Europe. This will take us one step closer to Vision Zero, the vision of accident-free driving," said Dr. Ulrich Eichhorn, head of group research and development for Volkswagen, in a statement.

It's not clear what effect if any the adoption of WLANp will have on American market cars and whether VW and other manufacturers will opt to start pushing this technology in the good old US of A.