Vehicles without drivers could soon be a reality. They are in development by a number of auto manufacturers, including Ford, Toyota, Volvo, General Motors, Daimler, Audi and Nissan. A handful of states, including Florida, California and Nevada have already enacted legislation that allows driver-less cars on the road. Experts at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) 2012 Driver-less Car Summit predict that fully automated vehicles will be on the road by 2020. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) expects approximately three-quarters of all vehicles on the road by 2040 to be unmanned by human drivers.
Following the Trends
While there are several legal and logistical obstacles to overcome before driver-less cars hit the roadways, many of today’s vehicles are already heading toward automation. Some current models use automated technology to help drivers navigate their cars. For example, some luxury vehicles offer automated parallel parking controls, warnings to correct lane wandering and automatic braking to avoid obstacles ahead to help human drivers reduce their chances of crashing. A poll among U.S. auto insurance companies shows that vehicles with forward collision alert systems or automatic braking in place are currently involved in fewer accidents.
On the Highway
According to MIT Review, some future vehicles within the next decade will be able to drive on the highway without human assistance. Scanners, sensors and radars are expected to be at the backbone of this major step in vehicle technology. One foreseeable danger for driver-less operation is not in the ability of automated systems to control speed and direction, but in cases where human drivers can intervene and suddenly take over the controls after sitting back and enjoying the ride.
In the City
Another step toward driver-less cars may come in the form of new technology for intersections. Most roadway intersections today are already managed by automated controls. New protocols can further reduce traffic congestion and make fuel economy in city driving conditions more efficient.
One obstacle to implementing driver-less vehicles on the road, however, is the public image of safety and the ability to get from Point A to Point B without crashes or other incidents. Reliability and benefits are among the frontrunners in consumer concerns. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that presently, about 90 percent of recent roadway crashes are caused by human error, so a reduction in human controls may be the answer to reducing the number of accidents.
During the next decade, the importance of human drivers paying attention to the road and avoiding distractions remains high. Today’s drivers will still need to operate their vehicles safely and within the confines of driving laws. To learn more about how you can improve your skills with an online defensive driving course in Texas, contact Texas Drive Safe customer support at 1-800-558-9887.