With the future of transportation getting closer and closer to changing the game with self-driving cars, the predictions and cool advanced gadgets from the Back to the Future films are finally becoming a reality. Automated vehicles have been the latest, most anticipated technological marvel in the nation. However, a few critical questions arise… Do we have the groundwork to support these vehicles? Who will have access to these driver-less cars? Unfortunately, our infrastructure is not ready to handle the latest technology of self-driving cars. We need collective cooperation from our federal, state, governments, automakers, lawmakers, and roadmakers to design and implement uniform automotive standards and regulations nationwide for the possibility of the roads of the future.
Although many Americans claim to be confident in their own driving skills and trust in their ability to avoid car accidents using their own quick reflexes and maneuvering, at least 100 people die from car accidents every day and about 2.6 million get injured on US roads every year. Automated vehicles will be much safer because of their precise ability to recognize the world around them using several sensors to stay alert & operate under the ever-changing environment. Being distracted is the number one reason why people get into accidents. Autonomous cars are able to multitask and stay hyper-aware of its surroundings without being distracted eliminating tens of thousands of deaths caused by car accidents every year.
Upgraded Signage & Road Markings
A couple of key components in need of upgrading in order to allow fully autonomous vehicles include our signage and road markings. A well-maintenanced road is key to support this new technology. Clearer lane markings will also help humans and automated cars “see,” navigate, and increase accurate predictability of directions and paths of other drivers sharing the road. According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, yellow turn signals are much safer and easier to recognize than red ones due to their distinction from brake lights.
Updated Road Infrastructure
An updated infrastructure on our 4 million miles of existing roads is another necessary critical change to ensure the safety and reliability of self-driving cars. Enhanced, bright, solid road signs, road markings, vehicle identification systems, and temporary traffic controls will be great backup solutions for vehicles especially when there is a temporary mishap in the system such as GPS failure. However, varying states are reluctant to spend the required funds on improving their road infrastructure thus slowing down progress necessary to make this happen.
Another massive issue that needs to be resolved is cyber security. In potential situations where hackers are able to take over control of multiple or individual automated vehicles it can be extremely unpredictable, dangerous and fatal. The solution is to have a security system that is not always continuously connected online and be able to orchestrate connections with networks within the vehicle and the environment in order to ensure a safe and secure transportation.
Autonomous vehicles will need to be properly marked to be easily identifiable from all other vehicles so other drivers and pedestrians are aware of them as we begin introducing them to the public. You should still be able to add other personalized enhancements to your automated car, just as you do today, such as upgrades to the body, exterior lighting modifications, and other customizations as long as your vehicle can still be easily classified as a self-driving car.
If we want the future technology to exist, we must cooperatively work together as a country to pave the way to accommodate the roads of tomorrow for everyone. We need to implement improvements in our road infrastructure, road signs, markings, and design bullet-proof cyber security among other things to make this work. Although we are very behind in accomplishing what we need to, the sooner we start, the sooner we will actually see self-driving cars on the road…and the sooner we will save thousands of lives a year. As consumers slowly start to trust driver-less cars more, something that used to seem like a distant dream watching flying autonomous vehicles in Back to the Future is quickly becoming a reality.