Why Autonomous Vehicles Will Reduce Road Fatalities
Car manufacturers are competing to bring autonomous vehicles to the general public because, simply put, it is big business. However, one of the key benefits is road safety and the potential to save a large number of lives.
It’s estimated that up to 300,000 lives per decade will be savedin the United States. Governments around the world are paying attention to figures such as these and therefore are generally agreeable to autonomous vehicles in their local corner of the world.
However, will these figures actually be met? Let’s consider why autonomous vehicles are safer drivers than the average human. By understanding the science behind the claims, perhaps it will be a no-brainer that autonomous vehicles will make such a big difference.
Robots do not get tired
The majority of fatalities on the road occur due to human error. This could be because the driver was tired and failed to notice a car pull out in front of them, or the driver was paying too much attention to their smartphone and failed to notice a pedestrian on a zebra crossing.
On the other hand, robots are not prone to such mistakes, because their detection sensors, algorithms and swift responses to critical situations will be online for the entire duration of the journey. Furthermore, a robot can detect cars around them where a human might not — in the blind spot.
Unfortunately, the AI in the early stages of autonomous vehicles may not be able to judge certain situations like a human can. For instance, AI might fail to predict how fellow drivers will respond in certain situations, whereas humans will have the experience to respond appropriately.
Extensive range of sensors
Self-driving vehicles are packed with so many sensors that missing something on the road will be a rare occurrence. Furthermore, the type of sensors varies, andincludes ultrasonics, GPS, cameras and LINDAR — the latter stands for light detection and ranging.
Multiple sensor types are used to detect the environment in different conditions. For instance, in the rain, one type of sensor might be favoured, while a different one may beat night. Also, having more than one sensor means that when one does not catch something, a different sensor can act as a backup.
One of the biggest advantages of AI over humans is that it can learn indefinitely. A human will use the experience they have to make decisions — this might be a few months on the road, a year or a decade.
However, AI can learn via simulations and driving on a daily basis. A company can pool the learned experience of all itscars to improve the quality of a centralized AI system. It can very quickly acquire lifetimes of driving experience that is simply not matched by any human driver.
AI will have reliable information on a particular road it has never driven on before, but a human needs to learn the particulars of a road that they have never driven first-hand. Over time, an AI based vehicle can have enough information to understand the safest way of driving on every single road around the world. It will know the areas where fatalities are likely occur and how to change driving behaviour to avoid further fatalities on that specific stretch of road.
It’s no secret that road fatalities are a big problem around the world, with up to 40,000 reported in the US last year alone. Therefore, autonomous vehicles are a technology that cannot arrive soon enough.
The indicators are that autonomous vehicles will improve road safety, but time will tell if theory translates to reality. With new technology, there will undoubtedly be teething problems. Also, it’s safe to say that deaths caused by autonomous vehicles will be more scrutinized than if it were a result of driver error.
Perhaps we need to give autonomous vehicles a try before coming to any conclusions. In the end, the statistical data will decide if we can trust autonomous vehicles to be safer than human drivers on the road.
When Will a Driverless Car Deliver Me Pizza?
Jim Faley, Ford’s executive vice president of global markets, believes that delivering everyday items like pizza will be a key application of self-driving vehicles. Imagine how cool that would be: you order a pizza, and it’s delivered by an autonomous vehicle.
This might reduce the cost of delivery for the customer and also increase the speed of delivery. The implementation of the technology is yet to be seen, so for now we can only speculate about how it will look in practice.
It might seem ambitious to be talking about autonomous pizza deliveries when the autonomous vehicle shift has yet to occur on a global scale. Regardless, there are a couple of pizza companies that are interested in being the first to do it.
At CES 2018, Toyota showed off a concept car called e-Palette, which has the capabilities to deliver packages. The car manufacturer plans to team up with a number of companies that need goods delivered such as Uber, Didi, Amazon and Pizza Hut.
They plan to implement the car for general public use by 2020 at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. Furthermore, a number of other tests will be run in Q1 of 2020. The length of this e-Pallete will be between 13 and23 feet.
However, the big difference between this autonomous car and a pizza delivery person is that the latter will deliver to your door. For individuals living in an apartment building, not having your pizza delivered to your apartment door might be a bit of a turn-off.
Pizza Hut is one of the biggest pizza brands out there with 13,728 locations worldwide. If they are making a push for autonomous pizza deliveries, then you can be sure that eventually they will get a solid infrastructure up and running.
Safety comes first
Before autonomous vehicles can be used for services like delivering pizza, they need to be safe for the road. Currently, a comprehensive array of car manufacturers are testing their self-driving vehicles to ensure that they are fit for the road.
It’s estimated that within the next twoyears there will be a variety of self-driving options available for the average person. Once the technology for transportation is established, the service industries will not be far behind.
Domino’s Ford pizza delivery service
Pizza fans in Miami are lucky because Dominos, another huge pizza brand, is piloting itspizza delivery service in the local area. Ford is confident that the info gained from this experiment will pave the way for real-world self-driving vehicles in 2021.
It’s great that two of the biggest pizza companies in the world are leading the way for autonomous pizza deliveries. This could spark some friendly competition for rolling the technology out sooner and at a more effective level of service.
Heavy investment in AI technologies is required before the pizza companies get closer to serving customers on a worldwide scale. However, testing in specific areas such as Miami is promising, as it shows that steps are being taken in the right direction.
Pizza is one of those meals people love around the world, and in the coming years the way we receive the service could be transformed. There is still a long way to go, as a number of questions need to be answered. How safe is the technology on a wide scale on public roads? And do we still leave a tip for fast service?
Perhaps in a decade we will remember the good old times when a pizza delivery boy would hustle to get to your door while the pizza was still hot in the pursuit of that tip. In the end, it comes down to the quality of service, and if autonomous vehicles can do it better, then the switch will happen sooner rather than later.
Top Security Concerns of Autonomous Vehicles
There are a number of obstacles currently blocking autonomous vehicles from worldwide use, and security is a big concern. Autonomous vehicles will be connected to a network, which means they will beprone to hacking. Imagine you’re going down the highway at over 100mph and a hacker takes control of your car — it’s certainly a scary thought, and it could threaten lives.
Autonomous vehicle manufacturers and cyber security professionals are currently trying to figure out how to solve the problem. Can it be solved at all? Nonetheless, take the time to learn about the main areas of concern experts are facing right now.
The manufacturing process
The first challengeis ensuring that cars are not tampered with during the manufacturing process. An autonomous vehicle must be delivered to the customer in a state that is already 100% secure. However, the typical car is built from parts from all around the world. Verifying that no part has been modified to make the car hackable is a huge undertaking.
The autonomous car industry is highly competitive, and the fear is that companies will begin to incorporate parts that have not yet been fully tested in the hope of delivering a better product. Collaboration between the companies needs to happen so that a secure infrastructure for manufacturing parts is established.
However, with the fierce competition in the marketplace, don’t expect companies to extend a helpful hand anytime soon.
Real time hacking events
Let’s say the manufacturing process goes well and a 100% secure vehicle is delivered to the end user. The next step is keeping the car safe while it is on the road. For a talented hacker, taking control of a car is not that difficult — especially if there are many points of entry into a network.
A live hacking demonstration displayed how real the threat is when a Jeep Cherokee was hacked travelling at 70mph. Once the hacker gets access, they can easily cause harm to the people inside the car and on the road around them.
However, hacking of cars is not limited to autonomous vehicles. Nowadays, the extent of electronic integration into the average car means most cars can be hacked. It’s a tough challenge to overcome for cybersecurity experts. Cybersecurity is a growing industry that has seen a lot of investment in recent years, but whetherit’s enough to deter hackers is yet to be seen.
Dealing with a live hacking event
The last part of the cybersecurity threat is dealing with it as it is occurring. Processes must be in place that can detect hackers trying to get into the system. Even if only a few minutes notice can be given that an autonomous car might be hacked, then there is enough time to get that car off the road.
A cybersecurity expert would be on standby whocould assist the passengers of the autonomous vehicle once the threat has been detected. This is not your typical customer service representative answering a few questions, but a team of trained professionals that can get customers out of a sticky situation.
There is still a long way to go before autonomous vehicles are 100% safe for public use, and perhaps they will never be completely safe. However, identifying the threats and points of access for hackers is a step in the right direction.
It will only take a few accidents to stop deployment of autonomous vehicles, which means the room for error is very small. Perhaps it will be an uphill battle for car manufacturers, or revolutionary security systems will becreated to get rid of hackers for good. It’s all up in the air for now, and we will surely know a lot more in the coming years.