Sunday, October 07, 2012

Bring on the self-driving cars!

Why I believe that (safe) autonomous vehicles will make driving safer, especially once they become ubiquitous on our roads.

We have a critical mass of factors making roads less safe. More roads are operating at or beyond their designed capacity, which makes it even more important for drivers to conduct themselves with due care and attention. There are more distractions than ever before, especially with mobile devices. Longer commutes and less than ideal driving conditions have made the average driver more prone to impulsive behaviour. I don't consider myself to be a very emotional guy, yet even I find myself experiencing road rage when surrounded by bad drivers. Offensive, not defensive driving styles are dominating and to make matters worse, many offensive styled drivers don't acknowledge that they themselves are also road hazards. Owners of large vehicles feel insulated from harm, increasing the likelihood they will do something dangerous. People who drive all wheel drive vehicles feel immune to bad weather conditions. Traffic enforcement is marginally effective or non-existent (at least in Canada). People who break traffic laws don't suffer much of a penalty. People who have lost their license or have no insurance continue to drive illegally. There are still far too many people who don't see the harm in drinking and driving.

So when you combine these factors, it makes sense that roads would become safer if left to a sophisticated computer to drive. Computers react faster and can communicate with other computers, making it possible for autonomous cars to link up with each other to drive in packs at high speeds, allowing for higher road capacity. Infrared and radar cameras on cars make it possible for the car to 'see' obstacles and hazards that humans cannot and take evasive action.

So when Volvo said 5 years ago that their goal was to make the world's safest car by 2020, I don't think it was all about air bags and chassis improvements. I think the future is the truly 'smart' car.

1 comment:

Aania said...

This is going to be so convenient for all of use who chat a lot while driving. while shopping, the car will help us to be parked anywhere on its own without us having to look for a parking lot :)

Good post