Every year, an exciting new topic hits the tech industry, and it becomes a lot of what they talk about. This year, the focus has been on artificial intelligence, virtual realities, machine learning and self-driving cars. The difference between now and the past is how everything has become interconnected. We have entered into an exciting time period where what you used to read about in science fiction has become a reality.
Self-Driving: Risky Technology?
A recent fatal Tesla Model S self-driving car crash highlighted the sobering risks of leaving everything up to technology. When a Senate inquiry was given, Tesla talked about how the automatic brake system failed. In another autopilot crash case, the situation went to court in China, and investigators continue to look into the circumstances of it. We are at an interesting crossroads with our technology where we will start to see a lot of changes. Mobvoi, for example, released a product they call the Tic Mirror. It gives you a rear-view mirror that uses voice control functions, and it's complemented with a self-driving system. This technology has not advanced far enough to where it's completely safe, but it shows a lot of promise.
We have to understand how this technology can only do so much to protect us from dangers. For example, the self-driving cars from Google (News - Alert) do not have a flawless safety record. Nevertheless, the reckless driving from humans continues to remain the greater danger. In one example of a fatal accident with a Google autonomous vehicle, a commercial van gunned the red light and struck the side of the vehicle. Fortunately, neither the driver of the van nor the rider in the self-driving car was injured. In previous cases, humans rear-ended a robotic car because it drove at a slower speed.
More Advanced Safety Features Than Ever Before
In 2015, 32,850 people died in car accidents in the U.S. alone. As daunting a number as it appears, safety has actually improved since 2005, when the toll reached 43,510 fatalities. Getting into your vehicle is likely the greatest danger that you will face on any given day, but the dramatic drop in traffic fatalities comes from improved safety innovation. Strangely enough, advances in steel have been a major improvement to the technology. Back in the 1950s and 1960s, cars were heavy and stiff. If you hit a wall, you bounced off the wall and all the deceleration could be felt throughout your body. Advanced steel, along with strategic materials like magnesium, carbon fiber and aluminum, have all helped to dissipate and redirect the momentum from the crash.
Even the small degrees of autonomous vehicles that we have today still rely on numerous sensors. In fact, those same sensors get used for other safety systems, such as blind spot monitoring and forward collision alerts.
Technological Innovations in Future Vehicles
We have seen a constant advancement in the technology of our cars. Today, our vehicles have an increased reliance on computer technology, and in fact, today's car is more like a computer than ever before. Driverless car technology is even available today. For example, the 2015 Chrysler 200 has optional parking assistance. All you have to do is hit a button, and the car detects an empty parking space. You only have to control the brakes and gas pedal, and the car will park itself.
Night Vision Detection System
Recently, BMW began offering a night vision detection system that makes use of infrared cameras to detect animals, pedestrians and objects in the dark. This groundbreaking technology could put a stop to some of the injuries that happen at night. Every year, one million animal-vehicle collisions take place and 200 people die as a result of these accidents.
It's exciting to see how far our car technology has come, but what's twice as intriguing is what the world of car technology will look like in 30 years. Self-driving vehicles are likely to become the biggest revolutionary technology. England has already started trials with fully automatic self-driving electric taxis. Some people may find the concept of technologically controlled vehicles alarming, but according to Barrie Kirk of CAVCOE, 93 percent of traffic accidents happen because of errors in human judgment.