Road safety is a major concern here in the U.S. given last year’s 40,000 deaths on the road. This figure is proof that despite the best efforts of automakers to improve car safety, road accidents are still commonplace, and can be fatal in many cases.
Here on Meee, we examined how some technologies make road travel safer including LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and Achieved Data Management System. But ultimately, improving road safety could boil down to having self-driving cars on the roads. Enter artificial intelligence, which is being described by T3 as the driving force behind fully autonomous cars. Theoretically, it will be AI that will make vehicles “act” as if they are being driven by a human driver. And this will be made possible via high-speed big data analysis and machine learning.
Already, millions are being invested in making AI-assisted driverless cars, with car manufacturers like Volkswagen, Mercedes, and BMW leading the way, along with reputable tech giants such as Google, Uber, Tesla, and Qualcomm.
But how, exactly, can AI make roads safer?
With AI interpreting data obtained from strategically placed sensors (which provide a 360-degree view of the environment), it can automatically steer a vehicle away from collisions or from uncompromising situations, like pedestrians suddenly passing by or obstacles such as holes and bumps. This capability, in many ways, will be the perfected version of the so-called Guardian Angel technology that is now being used in the BMW 5 series and Audi A8.
Machine learning will also be a major factor given what Wired describes as the impossibility of writing a rule for every scenario. But with AI, it will soon be possible for computers to detect lanes and identify cyclists (and pedestrians) by “learning from experience.” In effect, the computer acts just like a human driver, only infinitely better.
Clearly, the prospects for AI on the road are tantalizing, but it will take years before these advancements are fully utilized. Yet computers are already assisting with driving, and nowhere is this clearer than the trucking industry. The recently introduced Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate here in the U.S. requires fleet operators to equip their trucks with a device that can accomplish multiple tasks, like identifying fuel-efficient routes and recording driver habits. Verizon Connect explains that the device can also monitor drivers’ Hours of Service (HoS) to prevent them from exceeding their legal hours on the road. With the HoS strictly monitored, drivers are no longer able to overdrive which can lead to fatigue and distracted driving. Fatigue as pointed out by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “impairs performance,” and plays a huge factor in around 13% of crashes involving commercial motor vehicles. So, while technologies like Artificial Intelligence are still under development, the first steps are already being taken and implemented across the country.
Indeed, safer roads are on the horizon, and AI will be at the forefront of it.