Will Autonomous Vehicles Change Our Roadways in the Future?
UNITED STATES – An article online at gpbnews.org discusses autonomous vehicles and the way they are going to change our roadways in the future.*
Autonomous vehicle technology has already changed many aspects of our driving experience. Features like emergency braking, lane-change alarms, and parking assist have created intelligent vehicles that take some possibility of error away from humans. In the future, humans might have no control over their vehicles; They could simply be passengers.
What will these new vehicles look like? They might not look anything like the cars we know today, says former New York City traffic commissioner Sam Schwartz. They likely will not have steering wheels or pedals inside, as these are things only humans need. They could also be a completely different shape and size.
“[An autonomous car] could be a room any size,” Schwartz said. “It could be a conference room. I liken this a bit to the cellphone. In 1982, I was traffic commissioner. I has one of the first cell phones that I could use during emergencies. And the cellphone came – with a man carrying it – on a 12-volt battery and this huge phone. And today, the cellphone of today doesn’t look anything like the cellphone that I had in 1982 … The same thing can happen with cars … There’s no reason to think it’s going to look like a car, other than that’s what we’re used to.”
While people in the industry expect autonomous vehicles to vastly improve road safety, they have a long way to go before that is possible. Right now, companies are still working out kinks that could be extremely dangerous on today’s roads.
“So far, the track record is not very good with autonomous vehicles,” Schwartz said. “They can’t figure out what a pedestrian is or [what] a pedestrian is going to do. They can’t separate a child from a dog. Sometimes, a tree branch overhanging the road will be taken as something in the way. So, you know, we’re far from perfecting. They work perfectly without human beings, without people, [when] there’s nothing in the roadway that’s getting in their way.”
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