Apple, Google, Tesla, and Uber are racing to bring self-driving vehicles to market. According to the Gartner Group, there will be 250 million connected vehicles on the road by 2020.
In this ASCE Interchange, the executive director of Contra Costa, California’s transportation authority, Randy Iwasaki, P.E., explains how connected and autonomous vehicles can transform our nation’s transportation system to make it safer, smarter, and more sustainable. Before joining the authority, Iwasaki served as California’s director of transportation under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
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Randy Iwasaki did a great job of describing how future technology will transform our “moving” lives – how we drive, what we drive, where we drive, and if we drive. While automated vehicles and connected vehicles are quite different (automated vehicles make decisions based on what they can “see” with sensors; connected vehicles provide information to the driver based on what they can “learn” through connectivity), what we will see as vehicle owners is a combination – connected automation. What he didn’t mention is that starting in about 2020, federal regulation will almost certainly require this DSRC radio connectivity be part of every new light vehicle sold in the US. This sharing of information between cars – mostly for safety reasons – will be part of all new cars. If transportation agencies install DSRC and cellular systems as part of our infrastructure – signals, traveler information, etc. – this data sharing will enhance all of our driving experiences. Since 90% of crashes involve some sort of driver error, these connected and automated systems being built today may be our only hope of ever reaching the goal of zero fatalities on our roads. Thanks for having Randy share this vision.
Randy mentioned the increased throughput that this technology will allow on our roads but there’s another important aspect – reduced stress during commuting. Eventually, we may see specialized traffic lanes reserved for connected and automated vehicles that will eliminate, or at least reduce significantly, the stop-and-go accordian behavior that consumes gas, brake pads and patience.