Although new autonomous technology is quickly advancing to achieve a level comparable to or better than human driving, the current infrastructure will need to be updated to assure for ultimate success.
It has already been shown that autonomous vehicles can be better and safer than human drivers in many ways. Reports continue to project safer roadways, less serious accidents, and better traffic flow. Autonomous cars do away with blind spots and common human distractions. Wired reported:
“Autonomous vehicles could help eliminate 80 percent of the 30,000+ traffic fatalities recorded in the U.S. each year.”
Despite the technology having the ability to be “better than humans”, there are many obstacles in regards to the infrastructure that will inhibit progress. The software is unable to perform such tasks listed below:
- Interpret hand signals from workers or law enforcement officials
- Determine stop light colors if the sun is behind the light
- Stay between the lines on a road when paint is faded
- Sense danger situations ahead of time
Solutions to these problems will come less from software advancements and more from preparing the infrastructure. Some examples:
- Electric beacons/handhelds for construction workers or law enforcement officials
- Similar beacons on signs and lights, readable by the software
- Road repairs and updates like new paint, signs, reflectors and additional lane markers
Car connectivity, which is already well underway, will help with a myriad of situations as well. If cars can “talk” to each other and to construction workers, law enforcement officials, etc., danger situations will be lessened.
Government involvement and financing will need to be the key. It will be important for government officials to be made aware that spending some now, will likely reduce spening more later. Recently, a Senate hearing was held related to this topic. Hopefully it is an indication of more such government interaction to come.
Source (Extreme Tech)