Driverless vehicles can substantially improve safety on roads: Jeffrey Miller, IEEE

by Srikanth RP, Techonline India - May 27, 2014

Jeffrey Miller, IEEE Member shares his views on the future of driverless cars,key challenges for mass adoption and the factors that are critical for driverless cars to succeed in the mainstream

IEEE, the world’s largest professional organization dedicated to advancing technology for humanity, believes that internet-enabled vehicles will play an instrumental role in improving the future of commuting. It is estimated that by 2025, 60 percent of the cars on the road will be internet connected, which will promote advanced safety features, upgraded vehicle software protection and the continued adoption of autonomous vehicles.

jeffrey-miller-ieee
Jeffrey Miller, IEEE Member and Associate Professor at the University of Southern California

To understand more about the future of connected cars, we caught up with Jeffrey Miller, IEEE Member and Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, who shares with us how Intelligent applications running within vehicles could help drivers stay safer, keep track of vehicle health, and stay connected with family, friends, and colleagues in a mobile environment.

How do you see the future of cars?
Technology in all areas of the automotive industry continuing being improved.  We will most likely see more automated features in vehicles, such as automated lane-keeping algorithms and real-time routing based on live traffic data.  We will see improvements in fuel consumption and alternative energy vehicles, as well as lanes or roads that are optimized for such purposes.  Additional communication means, through vehicles communicating with each other or with roadway infrastructure, will continue to be adapted for safety, entertainment, and informational applications.

Last year, the IEEE predicted that by 2025, 60 percent of the cars on the road will be Internet connected? What do you think will be the impact for the society at large?
The world is now a very connected place.  It is difficult for many people to think about not having the security of a cellular phone or even a smartphone for placing calls or looking up information at their fingertips.  Although this technology is reaching maturity, there are times when people are not connected 100 percent of the time. Drivers of vehicles are often not looking at their smartphones (hopefully), but businesses may be missing a lot of directed advertising based on locality.  Coupons or discounts based on slow times in a restaurant could drive more traffic to the restaurant.  Intelligent applications running within vehicles could help drivers stay safer, keep track of vehicle health, and stay connected with family, friends, and colleagues in a mobile environment. Vehicles could become offices on wheels, and luxury will continue to be added into mid- to lower-cost vehicles.

What are the pros and cons of a future of smart driverless cars?
There are many benefits that will be experienced as a result of driverless vehicles.  First and foremost, the safety on the roads should improve substantially.  Although there could always be times when technology could malfunction, the percentage of time that happens compared to humans making errors will be much less frequent.  Over 80 percent of vehicle crashes are caused by human factors, so the great majority of crashes will hopefully be circumvented.  The capacity of the existing roadways will also increase because vehicles will be able to drive closer together when they are in communication with other vehicles or can sense acceleration and deceleration from leading vehicles.  The comfort and convenience of riding in your own car (or in a rideshare vehicle) will also improve travel and decrease stress.  There could be shared vehicles that are used by multiple people instead of individuals needing to own their own.  This could be similar to a taxi hailing system that is always available.

Many people do enjoy driving, and the penetration of driverless vehicles with driven vehicles will be a challenge.  Will there need to be special lanes for people who want to drive instead of adapting to driverless vehicles?  Will people want to share vehicles instead of having their own?  What type of legislation will be necessary for driverless vehicles?  Who will be responsible if a driverless vehicle is involved in a vehicle crash?

What are the key factors that will enable self-driving vehicles to truly succeed in the mainstream?
Cost is a prohibiting factor currently, so time is needed to see the cost of specific technologies to decrease. User acceptance will be critical because a driverless vehicle may not drive the same way that a person would.  Giving up control of a vehicle is difficult without a user building up his confidence in the vehicle.  Legislation is absolutely needed to determine responsibility for driverless vehicles that are involved in collisions.  And publicity will help raise user awareness of driverless vehicles to know that the technology exists and will be available in the market in the coming years.

About Author

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Srikanth RP

Executive Editor

An award-winning journalist with more than 14 years of experience, Srikanth RP is Executive Editor with InformationWeek India. Srikanth is passionate about writing on topics which clearly show the business impact of technology.

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