Fully automated vehicles are several years from becoming a reality. With all the government activities and the potential social benefits, it’s crucial not to overlook small improvements that can more quickly save lives and decrease the cost of injuries and accidents on the highway.
The research we conducted revealed that certain elements of autonomous car systems like adaptive cruise controls, lane departure warnings, and head-on collision avoidance systems could cut down on road deaths by as much as one-third in the event that they were installed on all cars across the U.S. Other researchers have proved the benefits of these gradual technological advancements, but they’re still not widely available. For example, only 6 percent of all new vehicles in the model year 2017 come with lane departure warnings as a standard feature.
Many consumers await driverless vehicles, but those who want to enhance road safety may overlook the boring short-term technological advancements that could create an impact. It happened before, over 60 years ago, as the federal Highway Safety officials first became attracted to autonomous vehicles.
Established in 1916 through the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, The National Research Council had been investigating safety concerns in the automobile in the 1920s and early 1930s, as did organizations such as the non-profit independent National Safety Council. However, the number of road deaths continued to increase as of 1925. crashes caused by cars caused the deaths of 21900 individuals within the United States. In 1953, the number almost doubled to 37,955.
In March 1953, members of the National Research Council’s Committee on Highway Safety Research were interested in the possibility of a self-driving vehicle. They approached Vladimir K. Zworykin, who was the creator of a self-driving vehicle system and also a researcher at the Radio Corporation of America in Princeton, New Jersey. Zworykin was already well-known, helping RCA’s David Sarnoff in the development of the television in 1953; however, by that time, he was able to turn his attention to automating the vehicle.
Zworykin later admitted to interviewers that road accidents and deaths drove Zworykin to create autonomous vehicles: “My idea was that control of automobiles should be done by the road.”
Zworykin’s method was based on a combination of a cable that was placed on the road and sensors at the car’s front. The line transmitted basic information, including speed limits and information about obstructions in front, and the vehicle itself could be used to alter its speed or even change lanes. In 1953, the creator showed the method to journalists, typically using a ventriloquist’s puppet to “drive” a red five-foot-long model car on an actual road.
Zworykin’s autonomic vehicles appeared to be the solution to the countless deaths on the road. In a heated letter to Zworykin’s inventor, one of Zworykin’s NRC employees compared Zworykin’s automobiles with futuristic concepts that were featured by General Motors’ 1939 World’s Fair exhibit, ” Futurama,” that featured images of self-driving cars in the exhibit titled “Highways of the Future.” The employee wrote, “I was very much interested to learn that … automatic guidance of automobiles on highways is now possible.” Engineers from RCA forecasted that American highways could be automated by the year 1975.
Not getting the rest of the part of the
However, there was an underlying irony that was at work: Federal officials largely disregarded the new research into crash safety. In the 1950s, researchers from the U.S. military and at universities such as Cornell and Wayne State were busy studying the amount of energy that the body of a human being could withstand and how it could be weakened – usually through grisly tests on cadavers as well as living non-human animals. They were also developing techniques to reduce the number of deaths and injuries from car crashes. In the end, the research resulted in seat belts as well as padded dashboards, airbags, and other innovations, which would save a lot of lives in the following years. It is estimated that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the safety features of vehicles have saved more than 600,000. lives between the years 1960 and 2012.
In a way, it was believed that the National Research Council overlooked this cutting-edge crash research due to its reliance on an old approach to safety research. The goal was to reduce the risk of crashes but not lessen their severity. One of the leaders in the field of crash safety, U.S. Air Force Colonel John Stapp, grew so dissatisfied with the lack of action from the entire nation that he created the Stapp Car Crash Conference in 1955. Stapp Car Crash Conference in 1955.
In the end, Stapp would be seen as an early hero of auto safety. Zworykin continued to demonstrate variations from his safety system for journalists as well as other people, at the very least, until the end of the 1950s. However, nothing much was gained from his work.
Don’t forget the little things.
In the midst of the second major autonomous car revolution, this forgotten time poses similar risks to the present. The enticement of completely driverless automobiles erodes our collective memories of the massive improvements in the safety of cars made through less glam measures.
Due to the law requiring seatbelts, car safety features, and the reduction in drunk driving, the number of fatal road accidents has decreased steadily. The year 1975 saw 33 deaths per billion miles driven through U.S. roads. In 1988, the fatality rate dropped to 23. The number dropped to 13 in 2008 and then dropped down to eleven deaths for every billion miles of travel in 2011. However, the number of road deaths has risen recently – in the years 2012, 2015 and 2016.
With an estimated 40,000 road deaths in the year 2016, The fatality rate has risen to close to thirteen per billion kilometers, which erases the progress made over the past decade. The high levels of dopamine from social media and the methods that our pocket devices distract us are thought to be playing a part in the rise in road fatalities. If smartphones are discovered to be a factor in the increase in road accidents as well, then the same breakthroughs in computing and information technology that are enabling a future of autonomous vehicles could end up causing death on roads today.
The increase in fatalities could not be reduced until automated vehicles come onto American roads. However, that doesn’t mean that consumers or manufacturers need to be waiting around.
Although research on autonomous vehicles has continued since the time of Zworykin, automated vehicles were mostly intriguing experiments and contests funded by DARPA up until the 2000s. Due to advancements in high-performance computers, sensors, and machine learning, technology is growing rapidly. Fully automated vehicles are able to take on more driving tasks for themselves, so long as humans are prepared to intervene in the event that there is a problem. As the gap between machine and human driving responsibility grows, there’s a risk of drivers being too confident of what technology that is partially automated can do without human assistance. (This possibility could lead to fatal consequences like it was in the collision in May of the Tesla car, whose driver switched on the vehicle’s “autopilot” mode.)
The ethical, engineering, safety, and regulatory issues of this grey zone are a growing concern. However, there is a lot of enthusiasm for what the next phase of automation might provide driverless vehicles with the capability of moving passengers across streets that are not crowded with shared, electric light vehicles that have drastically lower crash and fatality rates. However, this is not guaranteed, and it is more likely to become a reality than many people believe.
A few of the features that are automated that aid drivers are in place in the present and can dramatically improve the safety of drivers. All we need is to be confident enough to see the beauty and potential of incremental improvements.