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Vehicle Technology

"But now a change is at hand. Tesla CEO Elon Musk predicts that cars will drive themselves in two years. Chris Urmson at Google estimates it will take five years. Already Lyft and Uber have shifted millennials’ home-buying preferences: who needs a garage, or for that matter a kitchen or a living room, when transportation, food and even a social life are all available online and on-demand? This is why, even as urban home prices boom, we see couples with one car or no cars preferring smaller homes with fewer amenities but a high Walk Score and nearby transit."   -- Glenn Kelman, Redfin CEO
Connected and Automated Vehicles: NCHRP Support for Transportation Agency Leaders
NCHRP: TRB's National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has released a brochure that summarizes its research in the field of connected and automated vehicle. This resource explores how TRB is coordinating research to explore the legal, societal, operational, and other impacts that connected and automated vehicle technology may have on transportation agencies and the traveling public. The brochure explores how TRB is administering projects, issuing reports, and convening top-level leaders to address these emerging issues.

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Why 95 Percent of Your Driving Won’t Be in Your Own Car by 2030

When Google's self-driving program spin-off, Waymo, began offering to let Phoenix-area families try out its vehicle service last month, it touched off what a new study is calling "a historic revolution in transportation."

While the number of Americans using all forms of ride-sharing — autonomous or otherwise — is currently quite small, RethinkX, an independent think tank that looks at the impact of new technology, says it will grow rapidly.

By 2030, it predicts in its new report, 95 percent of the miles traveled in the U.S. will be in self-driving, shared electric vehicles.

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How Cities Should Be Preparing for the Onset of Autonomous Vehicles

Last year, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its autonomous vehicle guidelines, the document helped lay out a strategy for how the government will adopt self-driving vehicles. NHTSA suggested that the vehicle itself should be certified safe as a part of its federal motor vehicle safety standards and that states should remain responsible for the licensing and registration of the vehicle.

What remained ambiguous, according to the National League of Cities (NLC) however, was the official role cities were to play in this transportation revolution.

The guidelines are written in a very “state-centric” way, explained one of the report’s authors, Nicole DuPuis, senior associate with NLC. The federal guidelines, which number more than 100 pages, are “not super accessible for cities.”

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NewCartographer.com: Why Augmented Driving must Replace Semi-Autonomy
With the advancement of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) have come a long way, many believe the driving automation industry has lost scope of the real problems they should be attempting to fix.  NewCartographer.com has some suggestions that include examining traditional Aircraft industries protocols. 

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An Assessment of Autonomous Vehicles: Traffic Impacts and Infrastucture Needs
The project used surveys to analyze and gain an understanding of the U.S. general public’s perception towards such technologies and their willingness to adopt such technologies.  This research report also describes the potential crash, congestion, and other impacts of CAVs in Texas, and provides initial monetary estimates of those impacts, at various levels of market penetration. The findings indicated that CAVs will lead to increased vehicle miles traveled (VMT) because, essentially, drivers experience falling travel time burdens. Their values of travel time that make using a vehicle “costly” tend to decrease because they are more comfortable heading to more distant locations and those unable to drive themselves, such as the handicapped, can now travel safely.

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Safer and More Reliable Automotive Electronic Control Systems
The rapid evolution of electronic control and connectivity in motor vehicles has multiplied challenges for vehicle safety assurance. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration turned to Volpe’s nationally recognized advanced vehicle technology team to assess the safety and reliability of emerging electronic control systems.

Read the Full Story Here

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IBM Could Have a Solution to one of Self-driving Cars' Biggest Problems
IBM is developing a technology that can help determine if a person or a self-driving system should take control, taking into account the driver's physical condition and the mechanical function of the vehicle.  James Kozloski an IBM master inventor says, "What we are doing is envisioning a self-driving vehicle that is able to assess the readiness and risk associated with a human taking control of the vehicle, given some anomaly on board".

To read more about the IBM's solution, Click Here.

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Ford leading Waymo, Tesla, Uber in Self-driving Tech
Navigant Research released a study claiming that Ford was leading the pack in developing self-driving cars.  Some of the factors of the study were: demonstrating that the company had a strategic vision and execution capabilities to develop and deploy them. 

To read more about the study, Click Here.

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Minimum Sound Requirements Deregulation
The United States Government's has implemented a freeze on regulations related to the minimum sound requirements for Hybrid and Electric vehicles.

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As Traffic Deaths Rise, Will Public Warm to Driverless Cars?
The National Safety Council, a nonprofit organization, said Wednesday that an estimated 40,000 Americans died from traffic accidents in 2016, a 6 percent jump from the previous year. That number, which makes 2016 the deadliest year on US roads in nearly a decade, underscores the need for rapid adoption of new automotive safety technologies, NSC said.

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GM, Toyota says U.S. Rules Limiting Self-Driving Cars Need to be Eased
Reuters.com: General Motors Co and Toyota Motor Corp officials will tell a U.S. House panel on Tuesday that automakers need changes to automotive safety rules to allow the deployment of self-driving cars on American roads.

"Without changes to those regulations, it may be years before the promise of today’s technology can be realized and thousands of preventable deaths that could have been avoided will happen," said Mike Abelson, vice president of global strategy at GM, in written testimony released Monday. "It is imperative that manufacturers have the ability to test these vehicles in greater numbers."

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House Gets Serious about Driverless Cars - The Hill
Congress is looking at ways to lift safety standards that would expedite driver-less vehicles' standards.  Serious discussion of the autonomous car industry was spurred-on by the fact that people lawmakers no longer have to speculate the benefits of driver-less cars, driver-less cars are now share the roads with traditional cars.

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Are Consmers Willing to Pay to Let Their Cars Drive Them?
With emerging driver-less technology, the benefits are exciting.  However the following study discusses the how willing customers are to pay for driver-less cars.

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The Self-Driving Car's Bicycle Problem
Robotic cars are great at monitoring other cars, and they’re getting better at noticing pedestrians, squirrels, and birds. The main challenge, though, is posed by the lightest, quietest, swerviest vehicles on the road.

“Bicycles are probably the most difficult detection problem that autonomous vehicle systems face,” says UC Berkeley research engineer Steven Shladover.

Nuno Vasconcelos, a visual computing expert at the University of California, San Diego, says bikes pose a complex detection problem because they are relatively small, fast and heterogenous. “A car is basically a big block of stuff. A bicycle has much less mass and also there can be more variation in appearance — there are more shapes and colors and people hang stuff on them."


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GHSA - Autonomous Vehicles meet Human Drivers
This report addresses the challenges of autonomous vehicles and human drivers interacting with each other.  States' roles are also discussed and how they should behave with the new technologies. 

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New Report Advises States on Preparing Human Drivers for Autonomous Vehicles
Click Here to View Our GHSA Page and Read An Article on Driver Behavior Paramount as Autonomous Vehicles Introduced
NHTSA Light-Vehicle V2V Evaluation | December 2015
Approximately 2,800 vehicles were deployed in the NHTSA's pilot V2V program, where they were equipped with designated short-range communication-based vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology in a real-world driving environment. The goals of this independent evaluation were to characterize the capability, assess unintended consequences, and gauge driver acceptance of the V2Vsafety applications.

To read more Click Here

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U.S. DOT Names 10 Proving Ground Sites for Testing Autonomous Vehicles
Govtech.com: The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced ten automated vehicle proving ground test sites that will form a Community of Practice with the goal of advancing autonomous and connected vehicle technology.

The proving ground designees were announced Jan. 19 and include:
  • Pittsburgh and the Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute
  • Texas AV Proving Grounds Partnership
  • U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center
  • American Center for Mobility at Willow Run
  • Contra Costa Transportation Authority and GoMentum Station
  • San Diego Association of Governments
  • Iowa City Area Development Group
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • Central Florida Automated Vehicle Partners
  • North Carolina Turnpike Authority

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For Driverless Cars, A Moral Dilemma: Who Lives or Dies?
Associated Press: Imagine you're behind the wheel when your brakes fail. As you speed toward a crowded crosswalk, you're confronted with an impossible choice: veer right and mow down a large group of elderly people or veer left into a woman pushing a stroller.

Now imagine you're riding in the back of a self-driving car. How would it decide?

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are asking people worldwide how they think a robot car should handle such life-or-death decisions. Their findings so far show people prefer a self-driving car to act in the greater good, sacrificing its passenger if it can save a crowd of pedestrians. They just don't want to get into that car.

The findings present a dilemma for car makers and governments eager to introduce self-driving vehicles on the promise that they'll be safer than human-controlled cars.

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Self-Driving Cars Could Put 2M People with Disabilities to Work
ABC 33/40: Motorists of all ages are concerned about self-driving cars. Uber and Lyft drivers are worried about losing their jobs, while others simply doubt that computers can drive as well as humans. (Fun fact: They can. And how.)

But what's often left out of discussions around autonomous vehicles are the benefits they'll offer to people with disabilities. That's a major consideration, given that 57 million Americans are classified as disabled, including 3.8 million veterans.

While self-driving cars won't allow all of those folks to purse employment, they'll be a boon to some. A new whitepaper from Securing America's Future Energy (a think tank devoted to weaning the U.S. off of oil) and the Ruderman Family Foundation shows that autonomous vehicles will allow 2,000,000 people with disabilities to enter the workforce.

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BMW, Intel, Mobileye to Test 40 Driverless Cars in Second Half of 2017
According to several sources, BMW, Intel, and Mobileye announced on Wednesday they aim to begin testing “a fleet of around 40 self-driving test vehicles on the road in the second half of this year.” The BMW 7-Series test vehicles were planned to be equipped “with the latest technology from Intel and Mobileye and prepared for test drives worldwide starting in the United States and Europe.”

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US has Few Rules of the Road for Self-Driving Cars
San Francisco Chronicle: When it comes to the fledgling world of self-driving cars, most of the country exists in a legal gray area that is unlikely to change in 2017.

Nine states and the District of Columbia have laws on the books that address the cars, some of which lay out clear ground rules for permits and where the cars may be operated. That leaves the majority of states with no legal framework on how to address the ambitious technology that is quickly turning into reality.

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Why Transportation Tech is on a Collision Course for 2017
GreenBiz: During the last year alone, a self-driving truck has completed a commercial beer run, two automotive giants have spun out new divisions focused on "smart mobility," and one of the world’s biggest car companies unveiled a new electric vehicle amid Tesla-level intrigue.

Not since the days of Henry Ford’s first mass market family cars has the transportation industry seen the kind of upheaval happening today. Tech publications are running non-April Fool's Day articles hypothesizing about "Our self-flying car future.

Along the way, environmentalists have both cheered the potential for technology to aid in major cuts to transportation emissions and kept a careful eye on concerns such as undercutting public transit or increasing congestion in the process.

Get ready for all the techno-hype to get a lot more real in 2017 — especially when it comes to big questions poised to bubble to the surface around regulation, electrification and data security.

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National Highway Chief: 'Fully Self-Driving Cars' Decades Away

The head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stressed to lawmakers on Tuesday that while fully autonomous cars are much further down the road, officials are working hard on cybersecurity concerns and creating a unified regulatory framework before they arrive.

“Fully self-driving cars — we’re a ways off. In the last six months, people are realizing how hard that is,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind told members of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade during a hearing on self-driving cars.

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Implications of Connected and Automated Vehicles on the Roadway Networks
The University of Texas at Austin Center for Transportation Research made a publication called "Implications of Connected and Automated Vehicles on the Safety and Operations of Roadway Networks: A Final Report"

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Transportation Dept. to Hold Public Meeting on Federal Automated Vehicles Policy
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration  has announced a public meeting for November to gain input on the department’s federal policy on automated vehicles. The department will also receive input via the online Federal Register.

The policy, released Sept. 20, promotes the safe and efficient development and deployment of highly automated vehicles.

The first public meeting will be Nov. 10 in Washington, D.C., from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m., at the General Services Administration Regional Office Building, 301 7th Street Southwest.

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Why the DOT's Self-Driving Car Guidelines Aren’t Enough?

Ford, GM, Toyota and VW are just a handful of the car manufacturers planning to put self-driving cars on the road in the next five years. If you ask Uber or Tesla, they might say driverless cars have already arrived… which means we’re running out of time to secure one of the juiciest new targets for hackers.

Hacking a car is easy. Just ask Tesla, Jeep or Mitsubishi. As self-driving cars reach the masses, they’ll dramatically raise the stakes for cybersecurity. If your computer gets hacked, it can be costly. If your car gets hacked, it can be deadly.

The Department of Transportation’s (DoT) recent guidance on self-driving cars is a good start in addressing cybersecurity, but leaves a lot to be desired. Granted, the DoT does admit its lack of technical expertise, and requests special hiring tools to attract security experts who can best vet this new technology.

But we can’t afford to wait long for stricter rules. The current language — words like “best practices,” “guidance” and “should” — leaves room for wide interpretation that could leave cars vulnerable. Here’s how the DoT can take a page from other industries and keep drivers safe without slowing the advance of self-driving technology.

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Self-Driving Guidelines
After Self-Driving Guidelines, Will Automakers and the Govt Play Well in the Sandbox?

NBC News: A transportation revolution could be upon us. "This is just the first step," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, after the Department released the first-ever federal guidelines for autonomous and self-driving vehicles on Monday. The new rules will cover the development, testing and eventual sales of self-driving vehicles, while also providing guidelines for state regulators. What is particular significant is that the Department of Transportation, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is acting as much as anything as a proponent of smart car technology, rather than an anchor on autonomous vehicle technology.

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U.S. DOT Issues Federal Policy for Safe Testing and Deployment of Automated Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Transportation is issuing Federal policy for automated vehicles, laying a path for the safe testing and deployment of new auto technologies that have enormous potential for improving safety and mobility for Americans on the road. “Automated vehicles have the potential to save thousands of lives, driving the single biggest leap in road safety that our country has ever taken,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This policy is an unprecedented step by the federal government to harness the benefits of transformative technology by providing a framework for how to do it safely.”

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Feds Release Outline to Help Minimize Risk of Cyberattacks on Autos
Government Technology: The federal government's auto safety regulator on Monday released an outline of what it wants automakers to do to minimize the risk of cyber attacks on the vehicles they make and sell.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration set forth five goals, then suggested four areas in which the industry should focus its efforts.

The goals are:

  • Expand and share auto cybersecurity knowledge.
  • Set industry-based best practices and voluntary standards.
  • Develop software that counteracts hacking of vehicles.
  • Determine feasibility of minimum performance standards.
  • Gather research data that all businesses and the NHTSA can use to develop policy and enforcement.

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Federal Automated Vehicles Policy
NHTSA's Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety

NHTSA is wanting comments on this draft report

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Hodgepodge of Self-Driving Vehicle Laws Raises Safety Concerns

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: The free rides in self-driving cars that Uber began offering in Pittsburgh Wednesday wouldn’t be allowed in California. In Michigan, legislators are considering changing a law that requires a safety driver to be behind the wheel of self-driving vehicles to handle unexpected or emergency situations. A Chicago alderman wants to ban them completely. And the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is still developing guidelines for states to consider when writing their laws for self-driving vehicles. Pennsylvania’s Autonomous Vehicle Task Force is waiting for those guidelines before it releases its own recommendations to the Legislature in November.

That hodgepodge of standards for self-driving vehicles is raising concerns among consumer groups and safety experts who say the laws are lagging behind the technology that is fueling the race among a handful of companies developing autonomous vehicles. The lack of strong rules is causing some to question the safety of Uber beginning to carry non-paying passengers.

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Silicon Valley Online Course to Mint Self-Driving Car Engineers
Reuters.com: Silicon Valley is creating a crash course in self-driving car technology to address a shortage of engineers with help from a startup in a different field: online education. Nearly every major tech company, car company and ride services company, it seems, is developing or partnering with developers of self-driving technology, from Google parent Alphabet Inc to Tesla Motors, General Motors Corp and Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL], creating an insatiable demand for the people teaching the machines to think.

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Intelligent Transportation Systems News and Updates
The USDOT has released several new publications highlighting its latest research initiatives and findings and results related to intelligent transportation systems (ITS).

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Are Consumers Willing to Pay to Let Cars Drive for Them?
Are Consumers Willing to Pay to Let Cars Drive for Them? Analyzing Response to Autonomous Vehicles

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Top Transportation Safety Official Skeptical on Fully Autonomous Vehicles
"Christopher Hart, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, says his agency’s experience investigating accidents involving autopilot systems used in trains and planes suggests that humans can’t be fully removed from control."  Yet, he is totally supportive of moving ahead full speed in this direction.  Such caution is quite healthy in assuring that these vehicles will be as safe as possible as they hit the roadways.

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Road Safety Monitor 2014: Knowledge of Vehicle Safety Features in Canada
Traffic Injury Research Foundation: This fact sheet contains the national results from the Road Safety Monitor (RSM), 2014 that explored knowledge of vehicle safety features in Canada. The RSM is an annual public opinion survey conducted by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) in partnership with Beer Canada, Toyota Canada Foundation, and State Farm Canada. It takes the pulse of the nation on key road safety issues by means of an online survey of a random, representative sample of Canadian drivers.

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Automobile Companies Pushing Self-Driving Vehicles

Uber to Deploy Self-Driving Cars

U.S. News: Uber and Volvo earlier this year agreed to a $300 million partnership to develop a fully autonomous car that would be road-ready by 2021.

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Ford CEO: We’ll produce self-driving taxis in five years

San Francisco Gate: More than a century after the Model T hit the roadways, Ford Motor Co. is looking toward a future of self-driving taxis. CEO Mark Fields committed the automaker to mass-producing a fully autonomous vehicle in 2021, for use by ride-hailing services.

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Tesla isn't alone with cars that can nearly drive themselves

DETROIT (AP) — With all the attention paid to Tesla Motors' Autopilot system, you'd think the company was the only one making cars that can almost drive themselves. But many automakers have rolled out cars that do what Teslas do. The difference: Tesla debuted Autopilot, a suite of semi-autonomous driving features, with a swagger, while others tread more carefully.

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NHTSA to Release Self-Driving Vehicle Guidelines by End of Summer

Detroit Free Press: NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said Wednesday that early versions of autonomous vehicles have arrived, creating the need for the government to work as fast as possible to develop guidelines for the new technology.

The guidelines, which will be drafted in a matter of months, are intended to help set standards for automakers that are rapidly developing and deploying new technology. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to craft the guidelines now rather than adopting regulations that could take years for approval.

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Using Technology to Make Transportation More Accessible
USDOT: For many of us, transportation and our individual mobility are fairly seamless parts of our daily routine. We don’t even think about it, unless there’s a hiccup—the car doesn’t start, the bus is late, construction makes us take a detour.

But imagine if the hiccups were our daily routine –  if we had to face obstacles every day to get  from point A to point B. Can I drive this car? How will I get to the bus stop? Can I ride on this bus? Is it safe to cross the street? How will I get inside the building once I arrive?

At DOT, the Accessible Transportation Technologies Research Initiative (ATTRI) leads the Department’s efforts to seek technology-based solutions to these problems.

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ATTRI logo
First Fatal Crash of a 'Self-Driving' Tesla Prompts Investigation
The driver of a Tesla Model S was killed when his vehicle, which was engaged in the "Autopilot" mode, failed to stop and crashed into a tractor trailer. The company and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration are investigating.

See the Discussion on Twitter Here

Despite Fatal Crash, Top Safety Regulator Stands by Self-Driving Cars - Click Here

Click Here for the Reuters Article

Click Here for the AP Article

Click Here for the New York Times Article

Click Here for the Wall Street Journal Article

Click Here for the Washington Post Article

Detroit Free Press: A Southfield art gallery owner told police his 2016 Tesla Model X was in Autopilot mode when it crashed and rolled over on the Pennsylvania Turnpike last week. The crash came just one day after the NHTSA issued a report on a fatal crash in May involving a Tesla that was in self-driving mode.

Click Here for the Report

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Mercedes Deploys First Autonomous-Driving City Bus
Mashable reports that Mercedez-Benz on Monday deployed the industry’s first autonomous-driving city bus, dubbed the “Future Bus,” on a 12-mile route through Amsterdam. The Future Bus operates with Mercedes’ CityPilot autonomous driving system, enabling the bus to autonomously switch lanes, arrive at bus stops, pass through tunnels, interact with traffic signals, and brake for pedestrians and obstructions.

CNET News reports that the Future Bus can also stop, load, and unload passengers along its route without human intervention

PC Magazine posits that the future of self-driving cars remains uncertain, but Mercedes’ Future Bus puts the technology “much closer to reality, even in the US.” The article notes that start-up Local Motion has already deployed small autonomous buses in Washington, DC, and two California cities are developing self-driving, on-demand bus systems for short-distance routes.

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Heavy Testing Needed of Devices Eyed for Sharing Smart Vehicle Spectrum
AASHTO Officials have told the Federal Communications Commission that any efforts to share dedicated smart transportation radio spectrum with cable companies or wireless device users must undergo rigorous testing in advance to avoid creating new safety threats to transportation networks.

In extensive comments in response to an FCC solicitation to update the record, AASHTO said devices that may be considered to share the 5 GHz spectrum band with intelligent transportation systems must be fully tested and "be proven harmless before taking any action" to revise longstanding spectrum-use rules.

At issue is whether unlicensed WiFi devices could safely share the Dedicated Short Range Communications band that is increasingly used by emerging vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure systems.


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Reimagining Transportation: Beyond Traffic 2045

This report summarizes key findings from the Beyond Traffic 2045 Reimagining Transportation thought leadership speaker series held at Volpe, The National Transportation Systems Center, in the fall and winter of 2015. This document is also available to the public on the Volpe Website.

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Ethical Issues Associated With Vehicle Technology
Ethics Dilemmas May Hold Back Autonomous Cars

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Here's the Math Self-Driving Cars Will Use to Decide if it Should Sacrifice Its Passengers

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Who Will Driverless Cars Decide to Kill?

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New Connected Vehicle Data Environments Now Available in the Research Data Exchange
USDOT: The Research Data Exchange (RDE) now houses three new connected vehicle data environments from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Dynamic Mobility Application (DMA) program.

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Toyota to Invest $1B in Self-Driving Safety Features
NBC News: Toyota is targeting developing in the next five years driver assistance systems that integrate artificial intelligence (AI) to improve vehicle safety, the head of its advanced research division said.

Read More Here

Toyota's U.S. robotics boss promises results by 2021 from $1B investment

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LiquidPiston Unveils Tiny But Powerful Rotary Engine
A new kind of engine has showed its stuff for the first time outside the lab, and though it merely made a go-kart go, it could well be the start of something big.

The go-kart's conventional piston engine is on the left, the LiquidPiston rotary alternative is on the right

Read More Here

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The AI Dashcam App That Wants to Rate Every Driver in the World
This U.S.-Israeli startup is aiming to build what it calls “an air traffic control system” for driving, and has just raised an extra $10.5 million in venture capital financing.

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Estimating Lives Saved by Electronic Stability Control, 2010-2014
USDOT: In 2014 an estimated 1,580 lives were saved by electronic stability control (ESC) among passenger vehicle (PV) occupants. These lives saved consisted of 681 passenger car (PC) occupants and 899 light-truck and van (LTV) occupants.

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The USDOT Offers Several Resources to Advance the Deployment of Connected Vehicles

A nationwide network of connected vehicles and infrastructure is nearly here. Connected vehicles will be on our roads before the end of the decade. But there's still work to be done to ensure successful deployment and integration of the technology.

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Google Self-Driving Car Project Opening Michigan Tech Center
Google said Wednesday it’s opening a self-driving technology development center in the Detroit suburb of Novi.

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Uber Testing Self-Driving Car in Pittsburgh
Uber is testing a self-driving car on public streets in Pittsburgh. Uber says it has outfitted a Ford Fusion hybrid with radars, laser scanners and high-resolution cameras. It’s using the car to test self-driving capability and collect mapping data.

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Startup Wants to put Self-Driving Big Rigs on US Highways
Picture an 18-wheel truck barreling down the highway with 80,000 pounds of cargo and no one but a robot at the wheel. To many, that might seem a frightening idea, even at a time when a few dozen of Google's driverless cars are cruising city streets in California, Texas, Washington and Arizona. But Anthony Levandowski, a robot-loving engineer who helped steer Google's self-driving technology, is convinced autonomous big rigs will be the next big thing on the road to a safer transportation system.

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What Does the Concept of a Driverless Car Becoming Reality Actually Mean for Drivers?
There have been a myriad of major breakthroughs recently, including Tesla’s Autopilot technology and GM’s investment in Lyft for autonomous car research. The once intangible concept of a driverless car is now becoming a reality, and connectivity is already an essential standard for many new car models. So what does this mean for the consumer?

Read the Full Article Here

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Honda warning system trims insurance claims
A combined forward collision and lane departure warning system available on the Honda Accord is reducing insurance claims, a new HLDI analysis shows. The results are even better than expected based on previous studies of such technology on luxury vehicles.

In the first real-world study of a crash avoidance system on a high-volume, nonluxury vehicle, Honda's system was found to reduce insurance claims for damage to other vehicles by 14 percent. It cut claims for injuries to occupants of the equipped vehicles by 27 percent and claims for injuries to other road users by 40 percent.

Read more about this technology here.
How Google got states to legalize driverless cars

Google was able to get states to legalize its driverless cars with a few steps, the first of which was simply presenting the idea. After that, and arguing all of the positive effects driverless cars would have, such as making roads safer and creating jobs, they allowed potential allies to take test drives. Not surprisingly, everyone who has ridden in one has been impressed. These cars haven’t had any computer caused accidents, only 2 human error incidents. The cars are currently street legal in California, Nevada, Florida, and Michigan for testing. There are plans to move from the testing phase to the use by the public phase by June 2015.  Learn more about how Google was able to get states to legalize driverless cars here.

Projects Seek to Turn Pavement into Alternative Energy Sources
Step onto the pavement on a hot day and you might get a sense of the energy that Scott and Julie Brusaw hope to tap into. The Idaho couple are thinking up a way to pave the country's roadways with solar cells, rather than asphalt or concrete. The so-called Solar Roadways are an edgy idea that the entrepreneurs said could replace much of the need for traditional sources of generating electricity in the U.S., including coal-fired power plants.And they aren't the only ones who see the potential for roadways to become alternative energy sources. READ MORE...
Toward Zero Deaths
Not a Pipe Dream
by Dave Brown

Many traffic safety professionals feel that reaching anything close to zero deaths is just a pipe dream. Hopefully when you read this article you will begin to see that this is not the case. The key to TZD is not exclusively in the driver, although efforts must continue to alter driver behavior in order, for example, to get back what we have lost from the recent fatalities caused by cell phone use and texting while driving.

The feasibility of driverless vehicles became readily apparent recently with Google acquiring a patent for driverless car technology. Quoting from that article: "In June, Nevada became the first state to legalize self-driving cars, a victory for Google which has been working to put technology in the driver's seat by building cars that use radar, video cameras and lasers to navigate traffic. Google contends that computer-powered cars will drive more safely than humans."

This reinforces the viewpoint that the real promise for absolute zero deaths is in technology.

An excellent example of a TZD culture change is in the acceptance of seatbelts and airbags. The technology for airbags was developed in the early 1970s, but it did not become predominant until the early 1990s. Today there is effectively no objection to airbags, and they are taken for granted by most drivers. Seatbelt laws are also generally accepted by society. This is an example of the amount of time it takes to evolve the acceptance of a given technology -- in this case a generation.

Intelligent Vehicle and Highway Systems (IVHS) have also been researched and prototyped for decades. Traffic safety would seem to be a secondary consideration in bringing about their acceptance. Do you get angry when you see a crash? Most drivers feel concern and sadness for those affected, but it is not something that people typically get angry enough to be motivated to do something about.

How about traffic congestion? How about coming to a standstill on an Interstate only to find that there is no apparent reason for it? How about waiting at a traffic light when there is no traffic to speak of in the opposite direction. How about someone using a cell phone in the left lane of the Interstate ten miles per hour under the speed limit? Now things like this really get people mad, and as a result, they are willing to demand that something be done about them. All of these things can be controlled and improved by technology. But more importantly, their solutions generally save lives.

Let's think outside the box for just a minute. The ultimate: several north-south and east-west roadways that are dedicated to high speed motor vehicle travel at speeds in excess of 100 MPH. They are accessible only by vehicles that are equipped with the technology to support travel on them that is as safe as air travel. These vehicles are equipped with radar and communication systems that allow them to interoperate with the roadway and with other vehicles.

Entrances to (or exits from) these dedicated roadways are at least ten miles apart, or perhaps only at major cities. When you enter the roadway you relinquish your speed control and some other navigation capabilities. Your speed is restricted to about 70 MPH until you get into the vicinity of a platoon that soon overtakes you. Once the platoon approaches you automatically join it the perfect coordination of your speed with that of the platoon. Once connected, you and the platoon ramp up to 100 MPH or so.

The front central control vehicle is driven by an extremely skilled and trained professional, and there is also a co-driver just as with an aircraft. All vehicles in the platoon (which might number in the dozens) are closely monitored by the control vehicle and those that become deficient will be required to leave the platoon at the next safe place to exit. While the speeds are in excess of 100 MPH, the efficiency obtained is much greater than can be obtained by vehicles today traveling at 55 MPH, due to the reduced air friction (aka drafting) that results from the close proximity of the vehicles within the platoon. The automated control is also able to produce the maximum of efficiency and those vehicles that contribute most will be given a credit partial refund of their toll.

Cell phone use? No problem. In fact, with the exception of the platoon driver, any other could take a nap, read, surf the Internet or any other recreational or work activity that can be done in a car. The destination is set upon entry and the driver will be given plenty of warning prior to disengagement from the platoon. The platoon will slow to allow vehicles to depart, and all vehicles that are not exiting will be rejoined to the platoon before it resumes its speed.

To those who think this is impossible, all of the technology that is necessary for the above scenario has been developed -- it just has not be tested and refined at the point of being practical and reliable. And, like the airbags of 1970, it has not undergone the culture change necessary to make it (or something similar to it) a reality. But systems like these are being developed and tested both in the US and other countries. See the references below.

If your are still skeptical, then recall that in 1826 when Alexander Graham Bell first demonstrated the telephone, most people saw no practical application for his invention. Think of all of the infrastructure that had to be in place before this invention became practically useful, well over 100 years later. The point is that it did not have to occur all at once. And similar technologies evolved with it -- e.g., wire fabrication, electronic amplification, preservation of wood, switching systems, etc.

So, while there are many things that stand in the way of the dedicated road scenario, the components to support the necessary infrastructure can evolve fairly easily, starting with dedicated lanes that enable platoons to move significantly faster than the other traffic flow (albeit, not 100 MPH). Many states already have HOV lanes in place. These early prototypes will stimulate the auto manufacturers to create even smarter vehicles, and there will be a demand on governments to create more intelligent, accommodating roadways. It must all work together for continuous improvement and greater safety.

The above scenario might not be the one that plays out -- there might be a much more practical approach that will evolve over the next decade or so that we have not even thought of. But the principle is the same -- if it is going to happen in a timely way it will require a culture change that will need the support of the traffic safety community.

As we talk of a culture change in making even one fatality unacceptable to society, let us realize that it must go beyond what has traditionally been considered safe driving and safe roadways. We must all be looking forward to a time when traffic fatalities become a thing of the past because the technology has been developed to absolutely prevent them. Like air bags and other vehicle countermeasures, the components of these systems are evolving now and will, over the next few decades, demonstrate that traffic fatalities can truly become a thing of the past. Our hope is that it will not take over 100 years like the telephone did, but even if it does, moving toward the TZD goal will save many lives along the way.