The subject of crashless cars and driverless vehicles once again took the spotlight in a recent Scientific American magazine article, with the observation that collision avoidance technology is beginning to migrate to lower-cost cars and trucks. The next development in this technology, the article says, is automated braking assistance, which many believe will be the most effective development yet in reducing accidents.
According to the article, experts say that within a few decades, many advanced cars will be able to avoid most crashes. They also went so far as to say that at some point, cars will drive themselves.
However, the article states that there are several factors still holding back how quickly these new technologies are introduced. One is that they’re still rather expensive. Also, car manufacturers are wary of lawsuits arising from injuries or deaths caused by safety system failures. Automakers’ overriding concern, however, is intruding too much on customers’ strong feeling of control over their vehicles.
Not a surprise to collision repairers, the number of collisions in the United States have been on a downward trend for some time. Antilock brakes were introduced to the market in 1978, followed by traction-control systems and then enhanced stability control (ESC). The article cites studies by Mercedes and Toyota that indicate that ESC results in a 29 to 35 percent reduction in single-vehicle crashes and from 15 to 30 percent fewer head-on collisions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently decided to make ESC standard equipment by 2012 for vehicles below 10,000 lbs. gross weight.
The article states that technologies that automatically hit the brakes or steer cars back into their lanes to avoid accidents altogether are still about five to 10 years away.
Deer have been running crazy of late, but one expert predicts the future could hold safety systems that identify and avoid pedestrians and animals on the roadway, even at nighttime.
As far as driverless cars, the article mentioned several in existence that actually successfully navigated through a realistic city streetscape while competing in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Urban Challenge. General Motors CEO Rich Wagoner, Jr., even predicted that his company will market “autonomous vehicles” within 10 years.
To read the entire article, click HERE.