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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

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Article: Driverless Cars?

Driverless Cars - State of the Technology 2019

Table of Contents
  1. Driverless Cars - State of the Technology 2019

The Car as an Assistive Device – the future is almost here – Maybe…

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration sees “Five Eras of Safety”

1950 – 2000 Safety/Convenience Features

  -Cruise Control
  -Seat Belts
  -Antilock Brakes

  (you can probably include ” head rest-whip lash” protection and airbags in there too…)

2000 – 2010    Advanced Safety Features

- Electronic Stability Control
- Blind Spot Detection
- Forward Collision Warning
- Lane Departure Warning

(you can probably add “remember me” setting for driver fit, mirrors, etc)

2010 – 2016    Advanced Driver Assistance Features

- Rearview Video Systems
- Automatic Emergency Braking
- Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking
- Rear Automatic Emergency Braking
- Rear Cross Traffic Alert
- Lane Centering Assist

2016 – 2025   Partially Automated Safety Features

- Lane keeping assist
- Adaptive cruise control
- Traffic jam assist
- Self-parking

2025+  Fully Automated Safety Features

- Highway autopilot

 (source: https://www.nhtsa.gov/technology-innovation/automated-vehicles-safety#issue-road-self-driving , 2019 NHTSA)

 

Coming down the Homestretch?

The stated goal is for cars to be fully autonomous sometime after 2025.  This should be a game-changer for Disabled and Late-Senior drivers as they can reap the benefits of immediate on-demand transportation without the risks or complexities.    One study by the Ruderman Family Foundation note that employment could be opened up to 7 million addition persons with disabilities:

(source:  https://rudermanfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Self-Driving-Cars-The-Impact-on-People-with-Disabilities_FINAL.pdf )

There are a variety of hurdles to be surmounted before this can become a reality – here is a State of the Driverless Car paper by NHTSA as of April 2019:

https://www.nhtsa.gov/sites/nhtsa.dot.gov/files/documents/14269-overview_of_automated_vehicle_technology_042319_v1b.pdf

A related topic is Vehicle-to-vehicle communication (V2V), that is a vehicle’s capability to send and receive rough 10 messages a second in a 360 degree 300 meter range. As an example, if a car ahead has been involved in a crash, it might send out an airbag deployed at Lat/Long (GPS position) and cars behind might slow down automatically even if they haven’t seen it in the fog or storm.   NHTSA notes that there were 5.6 million police reported crashes in 2015.  Crash avoidance technology could put a significant dent (pun intended) in that number as well as the cost of auto-insurance.  

Issues

There are concerns of course:

  1. Of course, is judgement calls.  How deep is that puddle? If the driver is a local they may know it is just a low spot with an inch of water.  A human will know that the object in the road is a deceased squirrel as opposed to a sleeping baby.
  2. Things that obscure visual signs, like snow or fog.  Lane sensing technology becomes useless, where a human can follow the natural curve of the road.
  3. Volvo found that Kangaroo movements seem to especially confound car systems when they are above ground. 
  4. Driver to X contact – ie. Waving to a consumer for them  to cross the road or crosswalk.  How will driverless cars interact well with non-driverless cars acting irrationally, like running a red light or coming the wrong-way down a one-way street?
  5. Costs, to develop, test and to withstand legal barrages
  6. Security of the car systems against hacking and other intrusions 
  7. Public Acceptance…

At a point where all cars are driverless, or where most roads are reserved for them, there will be no need for traffic lights, most road signage, and parking meters. Whole industries surrounding “drivers” will disappear.  New industries we haven’t thought of will appear, as will opportunities for persons who couldn’t previously drive will become obtainable.

 

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Last Updated on 5/20/2019