Are you ready for autonomous vehicles?

By: DavidPage

A few years back, I was watching an animated movie about autonomous vehicles and high-end artificial Intelligence [AI]. This theme has been a popular one in movies and books ever since Isaac Asimov’s day. The movie’s main scene shows the AI trying to kill a human target. He directs the autonomous vehicle and other robotics to their death. The vehicle comes with optional manual controls that robots can bypass manually. Robots say, “You are experiencing an accident.”

Must Read: electrical wiring on stopped

Although I don’t expect this to happen anytime soon, vehicle control systems becoming more complex and capable will mean more responsibility for the driver. We haven’t yet taken the steering wheel from the driver. Consider, for instance, the various systems already found on modern vehicles.

Vehicle Safety Systems – The first step

Anti-lock brakes (ABS) prevent the brakes locking up and causing the vehicle to skid. ABS is a great way to keep your vehicle in control on slippery roads. VSC (vehicle skid control) and ESC (electronic stability control) can adjust the power output to maintain the vehicle’s intended path even on slippery roads. LKA (lane keep assist) uses video cameras to track the lines on the highway. LKA can alert you if you are near the line and even push electronic power steering [EPS] in the right direction. Blind spot monitoring [BSM] informs the driver when he attempts to change lanes on the highway. This is done to notify the driver and to use EPS to keep him in his lane.

Here’s my question. “What has this system really done for us?” While I believe roads are safer because of these innovations, I think we have lost the ability to drive. Driving a vehicle with a wheel weight of one to five tons in traffic and on roads that are varied is difficult. It requires all of the driver’s attention.

Never Miss: electric and hybrid boats

What have drivers lost?

Let’s look at our acronym list and see what’s missing.

ABS, VSC and ESC – These are all good ideas. But have we forgotten when it’s safe to drive? Is it necessary to drive 85 mph in wind-driven rain? In those conditions, fancy electronic systems won’t keep you safe from an accident.

LKA, BSM and EPS – This is where things get sticky. LKA can help you stay in your lane. But why? Should you be distracted by your smartphone or internet-connected audio/video/navigation system? Do you need to fall asleep because you’re tired and your last cup of coffee didn’t work? Are you attempting to change lanes at highway speeds? Have you forgotten how turn your head or use your mirrors? You should keep your eyes on the road and be alert and well rested.

Toyota’s technology website contains the following disclosure about safety systems: VSC. It is described as an electronic system that helps the driver maintain vehicle control in adverse conditions. It does not replace safe driving habits. VSC effectiveness can be affected by factors such as speed, road conditions, and driver steering input.

Also Read: derelict boats that a issue

The Next Step in Autonomous Vehicles

The self-driving car is being hailed as the next big thing. Nissan announced plans to produce an autonomous vehicle by 2020. We can understand those words, but for most people, these systems are a crutch. What happens when the driver is given more responsibility? We’ll be able to simply enter a destination and not have to know how to behave in traffic and road conditions. Why would we ever need to manually control an autonomous vehicle? The road is a dangerous place to drive. Conditions can change quickly due to debris, weather, wild or stray animals, as well as other drivers. Drivers must be vigilant in order to avoid accidents.

Even if, tomorrow, every single vehicle on the road was converted to autonomous function, internet- and intervehicle-connected, eliminating the driver from the equation, it will never be enough to cure congestion and keep travelers safe. Imagine autonomous vehicles being able to transport you and not having to pay attention until the last few seconds are needed to react to a new situation. It would be a disaster. Are we up for it?