How soon will it be before you pull up at a stop light in your car, and the car next to you has no one behind the wheel? Maybe sooner than you think.
One of the most interesting conversations I’ve had in recent months is with Bryan Mistele, founder and CEO of INRIX, the Seattle-based company that pioneered managing traffic by analyzing data from vehicles as well as road sensors. INRIX is now one of the leading providers of real-time parking and traffic information to your automobile — and they’ll be doing the same with driverless cars, or as the industry prefers to dub them, autonomous vehicles (AVs).
Mistele reminded me that AV’s are already on the road. Working with INRIX, Las Vegas was the first city to have an autonomous shuttle that opened in 2017, and Denver launched one near Denver International Airport in January 2019.
Talking to an expert like Mistele makes you realize there’s nothing magic about AVs. It’s all about sensors, data, computing power, and connectivity — and ultimately the security of that data and those connections, which can either take us all to the next level of a brave new technological world, or plunge us into chaos.
For example, the experts talk about the transition to AVs is in terms of levels. Level 1 includes built-in “autonomous” capabilities like adaptive cruise control; Level 2 is where two or more autonomous functions (for example, adaptive cruise control plus auto emergency braking) come together in a single vehicle.
At Level 3 the car still needs a driver to keep eyes on the road, but the car handles most tasks by itself, for example highway driving, and even can do the principal driving to get you from home to work and back. That’s where most of us will be in the next five years.
At Level 4 the car won’t need a driver except under certain conditions—for example with changes in the weather or road conditions like black ice or a gravel surface which the typical AVs’ optical sensors have trouble detecting. Most self-driving vehicles being tested today fit this description, while companies like Tesla continue to push on to Level 5, the nirvana of the AV engineer. That’s where the car does it all under all conditions, with you being the passenger the way your “baby on board” is now: free to read, sightsee, or sleep without giving the actual driving a second thought.Read More ›
The Eastside has long been eclipsed by Seattle. Now, however, it is challenging the big city on several fronts. The reasons are many: Microsoft’s revival; global tech companies opening engineering offices on the Eastside; the openness of Eastside local governments to new technologies; Seattle’s problems of homelessness, crime, traffic and subpar public schools; and the Seattle City Council’s hostile actions and rhetoric directed at tech companies.Read More ›
Seattle is facing a dire transportation crisis with the Jan. 11 closing of the viaduct, politely dubbed the “Period of Maximum Constraint” (POMC). While commuters, employers and school officials are busy making contingency plans, why not take advantage of this moment to tackle some of our traffic congestion problems with creative solutions that might not be possible in normal times.Read More ›
The following article references Discovery Institute’s own Bruce Agnew. Check it out at The Seattle Times.
When we envision our self-driving future, cars with built-in entertainment systems buzz us to and from work, while flying Ubers drop off passengers nearby. But the reality of the first commercial autonomous vehicles to arrive on our streets will probably be less sci-fi, more practical. Researchers at INRIX set out to discover which routes are most practical for commercial AVs — specifically freight trucks — in a new study released Monday. They analyzed trip data from the Kirkland, Wash. company’s traffic database between June to August of 2018. They wanted to find out which freight routes in the U.S. could see the biggest safety improvements from AVs and which would be the most commercially viable to the companies operating them. This article …
Just this month, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a driverless van began shuttling students and staff the 1-mile round trip between a research complex and a distant parking lot and bus stop. In Las Vegas, an autonomous van launched last year, taking curious passengers on a three-block loop between a downtown retail park and Las Vegas Boulevard. In San Ramon, California, two driverless shuttles began circulating in March through a nearly 600-acre cluster of office parks. Autonomous shuttle pilot projects are sprouting in myriad locations across the country, gauging people’s reactions and trying to increase their comfort with driverless transit. Bellevue wants in, too.
Artificial intelligence will enable vehicles to manage, make sense of, and respond quickly to real-world data inputs from hundreds of different sensors, but it’s going to take some time.
Bruce Agnew of the ACES Northwest Network spoke to KIRO 7 News about why autonomous semi-trucks will actually make our roads safer.