Autonomous Vehicles: Human Nature Meets AI

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Autonomous Vehicles: Human Nature Meets AI

The vision of a world in which vehicles drive themselves, smoothly transporting their passengers at a steady speed while maintaining a safe distance from all the other vehicles on the road, has motivated companies like Google, GM, Toyota, Nissan, Audi, Ford, Volvo, Daimler, and BMW to pour millions into efforts to develop driverless cars.

To navigate roads autonomously and safely, the vehicles typically include GPS, cameras, lasers, and radar to identify the car’s position on the road, the location of obstacles and pedestrians, and its distance from other vehicles, as well as processors to combine all the data and enable the car to react in real time.

According to reports from various manufacturers, some form of advanced automation will be available within a decade.  In the beginning, that may be limited to automated systems that take control only on highways, and to cars that park themselves in garages.  But at some point beyond that, the vision of completely autonomous traffic will become a reality.1

There are several major benefits of automated vehicles.  The list includes:

  • Fewer accidents:  According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.2 million people throughout the world are killed in car crashes every year.  Another 50 million people are injured in accidents.  According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 90 percent of road crashes involve human error.  Once humans are no longer responsible for driving the car, accidents are expected to drop by an equal percentage.2
  • Lower costs:  According to the American Automobile Association, accidents cause $300 billion in losses and 33,000 deaths on the road in the United States each year.  However, if the predictions about fewer accidents hold true, then the costs will also lower.3 
  • Time savings:  Self-driving cars that can keep track of each other using sensors could maintain the speed limit with a minimum of distance between them.4 
  • Greater convenience:  A car could be left at the entrance to a parking garage, where it would park itself.  Or to avoid the expense of parking at a convention center or airport, it could simply drive itself back to the owner’s driveway.5
  • Efficiency:  Since the typical car is idle for 96 percent of the time, allowing cars to drive themselves would maximize their usage...

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