Watching a video of Google’s self-driving car is a lot like science fiction: it can navigate the winding streets of San Francisco with ease. It recognizes pedestrians from distances outside the human periphery. Compared to a driver, it can stop in a fraction of the response time. Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, summed up the project’s vision at Techcrunch’s Disrupt conference in 2010: “Your car should drive itself. It just makes sense…it’s a bug that cars were invented before computers.” Self-driving, automated cars have arrived. With successful test runs, policy makers can both consider the realities of automation, and prepare for a transition from manual-only driving. Read more
The increase in the number of cars on the road over the past few decades has created headaches for everyone, from drivers to transportation planners and law enforcement. Advances in digital technology over the past several years, however, have made driving in some places less of a pain. For instance, digital signage on busy roads can alert drivers of alternate routes if there is an accident up ahead. Automakers have been working on Adaptive Cruise Control technology to help regulate your car’s speed in relation to the ones around you. GPS systems now plan your routes based on real time traffic data pulled from sensors, news stations, and other drivers over time.
But a well connected network is only part of the solution to chronic traffic issues. For the past few years, drivers have been using tools that largely focus on making each individual user’s life easier, when we really need to be moving toward innovation designed to make the system as a whole more efficient. And for this to fully work, people must then learn to use new technologies in less self-interested (and more responsible) ways. Read more
On a closed course in Brooklyn, the Department of Transportation (DOT) is testing a fleet of cars that can’t crash into each other. At the same time in Hokkaido, Nissans traveling down slippery mountain roads know when and where other Nissans have spun out or applied their anti-lock brakes. And tucked away at BMW’s test tracks in Stuttgart, motorcycles are predicting weather, avoiding intersection collisions and coordinating turns across oncoming traffic.
Each of these examples relies on a vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) network where cars speak to each other through sensors and short-range communication devices. In short: talking cars. But not of Knight Rider’s cybernetic-supercar ilk; a V2V network is more like Facebook for traffic — a public square where surrounding cars become your “friends” and everyone on the same highway becomes your “network.” Read more