So long, steering wheel
Transportation is changing rapidly. The United States Department of Transportation has a new plan released to fast-track the adoption of autonomous vehicles. It is at the doors already. By adjusting the "standards" for vehicle safety to remove certain items like steering wheels, foot pedals, etc., a truly autonomous car can be made, taking the human driver element and removing it altogether!
Under current US safety rules, a motor vehicle must have traditional controls, like a steering wheel, mirrors, and foot pedals, before it is allowed to operate on public roads. But that could all change under a new plan released on Thursday by the Department of Transportation that’s intended to open the floodgates for fully driverless cars.
The department, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “intends to reconsider the necessity and appropriateness of its current safety standards” as applied to autonomous vehicles, the 80-page document reads. In particular, regulators say they will look to change those safety standards “to accommodate automated vehicle technologies and the possibility of setting exceptions to certain standards — that are relevant only when human drivers are present.”
PRISM Engineering sees the whole landscape changing, and rapidly. The status quo in transportation planning is outdated already. Traffic Engineers and Transportation Planners are going to be updating all of their methods to morph into what will be the future of transportation: autonomous smart and programmed driverless vehicles. It is going to require a wholesale revision to street systems, sidewalks, bike paths, and freeway systems. It is going to see a repurposing of roadways that only need 7 foot lanes instead of 12, unless the width of the vehicles are widened to 10 feet, which would be nice. Vehicles are going to travel much closer together, much much closer, so you will have a greatly enhanced capacity, and if travel demand remains the same, you are going to see all congestion completely disappear. Capacity will be increased, 10 fold, or an order of magnitude.
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Grant Johnson, registered Traffic Engineer, shares insights and experiences from around the world.