About the author
Sara Tij is an Advanced Driver Assistance Systems product specialist at Faurecia Clarion Electronics. Before this, she studied with the Renault Foundation at the Ecole des Mines Paristech and the Renault Technocentre.
According to the Department of Transport, around 327 billion miles were driven on the UK’s roads in the year ending September 2018. While car traffic was at its highest recorded level ever in the UK, our need to stay mobile is also driving widespread adoption of new means of personal transport, raising fresh concerns about safety for all road users. The latest technologies directly integrated into vehicles can go a long way towards improving some safety issues.
The streets and pavements of our major cities are starting to look like jungles teeming with new contraptions. Along with concerns about traffic congestion, people are turning to different ways of travelling, from electric bicycles to scooters and hoverboards to Segways. Global sales of electric two-wheel scooters are predicted to increase from 34.4 million in 2016 to 55 million in 2024, according to Global Market Insights, suggesting that our choices of transport will continue to evolve at a rapid rate.
While electric scooters offer cost benefits and convenience in traffic congested cities, they are also fuelling questions about whether we need to re-think road safety as cars and lorries share space with a wide and diverse range of new transport methods.
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Leveraging emerging technologies
The OCDE report ‘Science, Technology and Innovation Outlook 2018’ from November 2018 states that some recent technology developments have huge potential: artificial intelligence, machine learning and robotisation can bring considerable advantages, complementing human competence in an intelligent way.
Although fully self-driving cars are not yet on the roads, many new cars are designed with a range of autonomous features to make driving easier and safer. They have faster reaction times than humans and with V2X connectivity, will eventually communicate with other vehicles, road users and pedestrians to anticipate any dangers and know what is ahead.
In cars, camera and radar technologies, along with lidar (laser radar), are already being used to enhance driving experience and have particularly strong potential to improve elements of road safety. For example, the automated parking system in the Nissan Leaf helps avoid accidents caused by human error, by making it easier to detect pedestrians, cyclists and those on scooters in blind spots around the car. According to the latest statistics for road safety in 2017, 73 pedestrians and 10 cyclists were killed in Greater London and many more seriously injured. Potentially, some of these lives could have been saved using automated methods of detection.
These new technologies also make it possible to control speed as appropriate to the environment, keep vehicles moving in the correct direction, avoid collisions and visualise the area around the car to help with manoeuvres. Soon, they will even be able to analyse how tired a driver is as well as their concentration level, alerting or advising them to take a break before continuing their journey.
Safer mobility today
Vehicles using new technologies, whether cars, buses, vans or even heavy goods vehicles, are already available – and are becoming commonplace, offering safer mobility than ever before.
The roll-out of new technology in vehicles needs to be backed by regulation. One of the key initiatives for this is the extension of the European Commission’s list of obligatory components in personal and heavy goods vehicles. In April 2018, the European Union made the eCall emergency call system compulsory in all new cars sold within the EU. In addition, cruise control that reads and conforms to speed limit signs and a system that alerts the driver when they accidently stray from their lane are in discussion. The EU, governments and car manufacturers need to keep up the momentum on these regulations.
New car technologies are a fundamental part of building smart cities of the future. While autonomous vehicles still have a long way to go, intelligent features built into vehicles will inevitably help to vastly improve safety for all road users and establish a practical transport infrastructure.
Sara Tij, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems product specialist at Faurecia Clarion Electronics
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