Vehicle technology is developing at a rapid pace. Active safety systems now exist that stop a vehicle before an accident occurs or wake a driver up when he or she is about to fall asleep. Automobiles will soon be able to communicate with one another to keep a serious collision from taking place. And Google and other companies are in the process of developing automobiles that don’t even require driver input to operate.
Because of this progress, automakers have become somewhat emboldened to make sensationalistic predictions about the future. Nissan believes their autonomous vehicle technology will be available within just seven short years, while Volvo recently made the bold proclamation that no severe injuries or fatalities will happen in their vehicles starting in 2020.
However, it’s important to note that challenges certainly exist to the widespread proliferation of this promising technology, and a new report from eWeek explores those challenges in detail. It outlines the current state of technological development and explains the hurdles that automakers still need to overcome if driver error is to be completely eliminated from the equation.
One can see why automakers, insurance companies, and safety advocates are intent on seeing these types of systems adopted. If human error becomes a thing of the past, so might most car crashes. The report notes that between 90% and 93% of the estimated 6 million collisions that occur on an annual basis throughout the country are the result of human error. Environmental factors don’t even come close.
One can’t deny the appeal of a fully autonomous car. A representative of Google explains that computers taking over driving along the roadway could allow for smaller lanes, faster travel, and a lack of traffic jams. Although such autonomy is the ultimate goal, many other developers are settling for increased connectivity for now.
As we noted up above, it won’t be easy to get everyone to accept this technology. Price is already an issue, especially as some people scoff at the idea of paying an additional monthly data fee on top of what they already paid for the vehicle itself.
But perhaps more important to deal with is the need to ensure security of these automobiles. Recently, a security consultant and Twitter engineer duo showed how easy it was to hack an automobile. When this occurs with a phone, you’re open to cyberthreats. When it happens with a car, your vehicle can suddenly be flung into other vehicles, and consumers need to know they’re protected from such incidents while they’re driving. Still others have expressed concern about privacy.
These issues will need to be surmounted if an era of connectivity is to be ushered in.