Autonomous Vehicles Will Use Smart Roads

One of the most exciting and promising concepts surrounding electric vehicles is the idea that they can be used as autonomous vehicles that will allow minimal human interaction while driving. While this concept is still very far from reality, some advancements in technology have helped ignite excitement in the idea. Current electric vehicles have built in sensors that can act to observe the surrounding environment, however the claims from certain automobile manufacturers that their vehicles are “self driving” are laughably inaccurate at a minimum. At worst, these claims are dangerous and deadly, and result in car crash fatalities while their so called passengers are doing other things while they should be driving and watching the road. Someday, however, vehicles may be self driving with the help of smart environments. Many different examples of smart environments are being developed that assist vehicles in knowing their surroundings while traveling down the road. Smart vehicles will be able to communicate to each other, based upon their surroundings, to alert other vehicles of problems, obstructions, and hazards in the roadway. This concept is called “vehicle to infrastructure” communication, dubbed V2I for short. The ability of a vehicle to know its surroundings will be a helpful step towards automation. Another concept uses existing infrastructure cameras to inform traveling vehicles of the roadway conditions. Department of Transportation cameras have been doing this for years albeit not in a “smart” sense that informs machines of traffic conditions. Several concept roadways that use smart cameras are already in use. These roadways, located in Ohio and Michigan, have the ability to transmit useful information from the view of the cameras, to the surrounding infrastructure. Ford and Volkswagen Company have teamed up to support autonomous vehicle company Argo to develop an infrastructure intelligence system that is capable of updating current roadway conditions almost on the fly. Many more exciting developments are underway and will be implemented onto national roadways in the near future.

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