Tech will revolutionize the driving world
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, December 1st 2017
Technological change was among the major themes of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas convention last month in New Mexico.
Vehicle manufacturers are adding safety features today that were the stuff of science fiction only a few years ago.
A pothole detection system created by Ford is meant to save wear and tear on tires and rims.
Ford is also in the final stages of offering a tire-tread design that changes configuration according to the temperature and road conditions.
Mazda is likely to offer airbags on the exterior of their vehicles, not for the protection of the occupants but rather for the possible cushioning of the impact with pedestrians and cyclists.
BMW has developed an airbag system that opens with such force that it was likely to burst the eardrums of the passengers.
To combat this possibility, the sunroof is to release in a serious impact crash and emergency lights are meant to light the way to safety.
Autonomous vehicles were a hot topic at the convention.
The platooning of large semi-trailers is being tested in Texas.
Live drivers are in the lead vehicle and in the vehicle bringing up the rear of a five-vehicle convoy.
The hardware for such a reality on our major highways is ready to go — software development is causing the delay.
We are a long way off from an autonomous vehicle showing up at a residence to transport people to a desired destination, but not as far away from reality as many mightbelieve.
There are all sorts of questions to answer before the technology will be a reality.
Do the occupants insure the autonomous vehicle, or is the manufacturer responsible?
Does the autonomous vehicle choose to protect the occupants of the vehicle, or give more importance to protecting the cyclists and pedestrians in the traffic mix?
When a motorcycle blind-spot detection system does not work properly, because the bike is travelling at a high rate of speed, who is to blame?
One company, which has pioneered the autonomous braking system, has only been successful in three of 10 simulated tests of the system.
Jeep has worked hard on an autonomous system, and has hired hackers to test the security of their work.
An expert in driver education and innovation at the convention in Albuquerque told us it took Jeep’s hackers two years to compromise it.
There is a study of 3,000 autonomous internet-connected vehicles talking to one another in Michigan.
It is meant to test the co-operation possibilities among vehicles that are so equipped.
Physically handicapped people are very interested in the testing of these vehicles, for obvious reasons.
These vehicles seem to be able to sense and prevent side impact crashes at intersections, blind-spot mishaps, train incidences, but are not able to detect animal and wildlife activity.
There are six stages of automation described by experts. The first three still involve the active participation of a human driver.
The latter three stages do not involve a driver or active operator of the vehicle.
At present, 94 per cent of crashes are caused by human error.
There is a concerted effort to automate the normal functions of a driver to reduce crashes.
The testing has in most instances been conducted in the southern U.S.
Poor weather conditions and the challenge of rural technological connectivity have not yet been addressed.
Some reports have suggested a fully autonomous vehicle will be available by 2025.
Most experts on the subject are less ambitious and predict a much longer timeline.
They liken the experience to the airline-industry autopilot system.
More on the convention next week.