Some behind the scenes tech at how a Waymo computer system can process the world around it in full 360 degrees. With so many eyes on the road, and each item's location and speed being tracked and predicted, how could there be any doubt that this is not just almost equivalent to what a human could do, but is actually two or three orders of magnitude more than a human could accomplish. This tech knows how fast all the cars and peds are moving, simultaneously, on a very busy street! It even knows if a car is about to run a red light and slows down to just miss it, and then continue. This will save lives. AV will save lives and should be embraced sooner, not later. PRISM Engineering is supportive of a full adoption of implementing AV tech in Smart Cities that can take advantage of Vision AV0, where autonomous vehicles and grade separations are the answer to reducing vehicle fatalities. We need this sooner than later.
Bike and Pedestrian Fatalities Higher than Ever in USA. Current Methods of Safety Not Working to Reduce Fatalities
If there are 37,000+ vehicle related deaths each year in the USA, and Pedestrians account for 15% of these, and they used to be only 11%, then this 4% increase represents 1,500 MORE pedestrian deaths each year compare to just 10 years ago. The 37,000+ number is also at a peak.
Obviously, whatever is the mainstream safety push for transportation is not working to even bring down the number of fatalities each year in the USA, in fact, it is going the opposite direction. Current methods are clearly not working and should be reconsidered as a whole. Nobody quite understands this counter-intuitive result, but the Governor's Highway safety Association is aware of it. Here is what they are saying:
"IT IS ALARMING," says GHSA* executive director Jonathan Adkins, "and it's counter-intuitive." (*Governor's Highway safety Association).
We need to pay attention to the facts, the accident history. "There's been an assumption that, because of increased safety of vehicles as we move toward semi-autonomous vehicles, that traffic deaths were going to go down," Adkins says. "We're seeing just the opposite, unfortunately, with a particular spike as it relates to pedestrians and cyclists."
from NPR's Pedestrian Fatalities Remain At 25-Year High For Second Year In A Row:
New traffic methods for PEDS/Bikes have not moved the needle. They LOOK good, but... Cycle Tracks and XWalks are not solving it. PED bridges are not cutting the fatalities (UP! to 40k / year in USA) ...no improvements! "Vision Zero" as currently envisioned seems beyond reach. We need new Engineered & real solutions that will eliminate mixing of vulnerable travel modes with vehicles. J-Walkers, PEDS crossing paths with vehicles, cyclists mixing with cars/trucks assuming safety, while traveling along side some incompetent or risk-taking drivers: HUMAN factors... and not Improving.
The assumption that any kind of "new and improved" traffic control device specifically for PEDS or BIKES will make them safer needs to be questioned, since the accident fatality data does not bear this out. The needle has been moving in just the opposite direction, and we can no longer assume that more striping, different striping, or even complete streets will make pedestrians safer. What needs to happen is a realization that MORE pedestrians mingled with Vehicles on roadways where cars/trucks can hit people directly, is turning out to be a dangerous thing.
1) In order for AV to be effective and yield safety results (VisionAV0) for cars, bikes, and peds, you need a new roadway INFRASTRUCTURE, a smart one, and that also separates the modes of travel.
2) No longer is it safe to mix pedestrians, bikes, and cars / trucks in the same real estate on the roads, without barriers or grade separations. Our accident rates and data prove this. They are going up in recent years despite new traffic controls, and are currently unacceptable. 40K fatalities each year in the USA is a terrible statistic, unacceptable, and status quo is no longer acceptable especially when we CAN find a solution(s).
3) New solutions are required. It will require planning and engineering coordination at all levels of government... civil engineering and transportation planning to bring this together in a meaningful and effective way. While I don't necessarily agree with Bill Ford's assessment that this will take lots of time, it doesn't have to...because as a Traffic Engineer who's main goal is the safe movement of people, I want to see safety first, capacity and throughput second. We have a huge safety problem NOW. We need to take action for safety's sake, use the latest technology, not put lipstick on a pig, but redesign and retool our infrastructure in smart ways... and AV can help and is in fact, the answer to our safety problem.
Daimler Mercedes Benz is one of the leaders in AV. Thinking away ahead, and planning, implementing. Thinking society too.
GM is Launching Robocars with NO STEERING WHEELS or PEDALS next year in 2019.
In case anyone is wondering how fast this is coming... GM is also in the running. But there many others. In fact, ALL car companies are in on the action and are attempting to define how this is all going to play out, because their very existence depends on it. And in their defense, they own it, they are in the driver's seat. They have the vehicle technology which is so advanced, that companies like Apple and Google are literally playing catch up. While Google and Apple think about and work on making software that controls some robotics in the car, the real tech is in the engine,
from the WIRED article:
"After more than a century making vehicles for humans to drive, General Motors has ripped the heart out of its latest ride, and is now holding the grisly spectacle up for all the world to see: A car with no steering wheel. And it plans to put a fleet of these newfangled things to work in a taxi-like service, somewhere in the US, next year.
And no, this robo-chariot, a modified all-electric Chevrolet Bolt, doesn't have pedals either. This is GM's truly driverless debut, a car that will have to handle the world on its own. No matter what happens, you, dear human passenger, cannot help it now.
Terrifying? Maybe. But it's also a major step in GM’s aggressive bid to maintain its big dog status as the auto industry evolves away from individual ownership and flesh-and-blood drivers. And it’s just the beginning for the Detroit stalwart. “We’ve put together four generations of autonomous vehicles over the course of 18 months,” says Dan Ammann, GM’s president. “You can safely assume that the fourth generation won’t be the last.”
While Waymo, Uber, and others in this..." (read more at WIRED.COM)
Grant Johnson, registered Traffic Engineer, shares insights and experiences from around the world.