Driver-less Cars – How They Will Make Aging Easier

vehicle system capability, internet of things road transport. Modern vector illustration concept, isolated on white background.

It is a current reality and has been for some while that there is such a thing as driver-less cars, Google has them out on the road.  What you may or may not know is that researchers and car manufacturers are working hand in hand to make this a reality on a more massive scale.

At the moment there are very few options for buying an autonomous vehicle.  What happens and why these cars work at all in the first place is because they sense their surroundings. Using GPS, Radar, Computer TV and Lidar in combination, the car’s computer is able to assimilate and accurately process the information. These systems are very complex but are then able to force the car to react accordingly at very fast speeds.

What is important to focus on is that this in of itself is a huge feat.  For a vehicle to be autonomous it must perform well with unknowns, must be adaptive and must solve problems without interference. This is a project that has not only gotten some media coverage but has got government agencies taking this feat seriously.

The National Highway Safety Administration has classified Autonomous in a formal classification system.

Level 4: The vehicle controls everything, the driver is not expected to control the vehicle at any time. From start to stop the cars computer controls everything

Level 3:This is when the car is controlled by the driver, but if need it can control certain essential functions, such as provide enough time to transition safely

Level 2: This would be considered if the vehicle has cruise control or lane assist

Level 1:This refers to ESC, Electronic Stability Control and automatic braking

Level 0: Driver controlled 100%

Advantages of autonomous cars are quite enumerable and in no specific order.

  • Reduces space for parking, since these cars can be much smaller.
  • Fewer traffic accidents, these cars can plan for almost everything.
  • Less fewer accidents due to human error.
  • Possible higher speed limit if cars are autonomous
  • Alleviates parking congestion
  • Smoother rides
  • Less space being taken up, if the steering wheel and driver console are removed because  they are no longer necessary.

Driver-less cars are the wave of the future.  Stop and think of how many elders cannot go anywhere and a lot of them are stuck within the confines of their own homes.  They need to rely on people to pick them up, or they need to live close to functional public transportation such as a train, bus or ferry.  What if you didn’t need to rely on anyone just where you were going, some address is what you needed to have more autonomous.  Just imagine what that would do for our aging population here in Houston, now think about what impact that would have at a national level.  We have to start somewhere and scientists are doing just that.

It is important that we continue to support this type of advances so that way we can help our fellow citizens. Help those who have been left behind, help those who for whatever reason can no longer drive, either due to aging or disabilities.  All of us deserve the right to travel, to feel the wind in our hair as we drive down the interstate.

Can you imagine cars being tracked constantly?

Data NetworkThat is what the trends seem to be forecasting. Actually if you have purchased a car in the last few years chances are that you are already being tracked.  There is a device called a little black box in your car, it records information like GPS location, speed, Traffic violations, etc.

The difference with the new tracking system and those little black boxes such as planes have are different because the other drivers would be receiving warnings.  This would be a revolutionary system as far as some critics are concerned.  Why?  This would allow you to know if there is a car driving in your direction which is swerving, speeding and running red lights.  Chances are you can receive this information and then take defensive measures like turning down a side street and possibly saving your life.

Of course, if other drivers who purchase this V2V  (vehicle to vehicle)

type of communication for approximately $350 USD by 2020 will have access to your information.  This would include all light autos (as opposed to semis, etc.) However, police cruisers would also be privy to this type of information and insurance agencies.

Then we are begged with the question, what is best? To create and enforce a system that can possibly save lives and make driving less dangerous.  In the U.s. in 2012 according to the Driving deaths per year 33,561 people died from automotive accidents.  That is a large number of accidents, it begs the question, how many of those could be avoided.  What is the cost for this additional safety precaution like airbags, seat belts and seat belt warnings, not to mention tickets if caught not wearing one correctly or at all.

A while back the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA for short, published a “notice to rule-making” in the Federal Register.  The intention is to have the V2V software mandatory for all vehicles.  The officials believe that it will save thousands of lives and improve highway safety. The thought is that if you help drivers avoid car crashes then, we ensure that highway safety is ensured and the U.S. remains a leader in the car safety industry worldwide.  The global automotive industry looks to the U.S. for some of the latest safety innovations, to some law makers this is important.

Some it might save more lives which is good, but it could potentially take away some of our basic freedoms, let us discuss this other possibility. If you are a privacy advocate and after reading George Orwell’s 1984 who can blame you, then this might be cause for some concern.   96% of cars mass produced in the last few years have the little black box according to sources.  So these machines with their V2V information will be collecting pertinent information.

Information as detailed as speed, red light ran, directionality, and an accurate description of your vehicle, just the information that insurance agencies and police agencies drool for.  Who is in control of this information and what is being done to safeguard our basic rights?  Does this override the believe assumption that this information could be life saving and help avoid crashes and car related deaths all together.

Would this deter drivers to drive smarter, take less chances on the road if the chance is greatly improved of them getting caught by patrol cars if they venture behind the wheel?  Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx believes that this technology could move us from helping people survive crashes by helping them avoid them altogether”.

Will we have to purchase these V2V systems for the proposed price of $350?  What if we choose not to use them, will we be punished, will our tracked information in a new car be used in the same way?  How much of a say do we have in any of this?  What should our say be, isn’t preserving life what is most important while on a dark road at night?