Article by: Kathy Oristaglio
For full story visit: TCPalm
It may be in the form of a rideshare or delivery vehicle but within the next decade, there probably will be cars without drivers — known as autonomous vehicles—on the Treasure Coast.
Right now, auto manufacturers are designing and producing autonomous systems that issue warnings, but still give drivers control of the vehicle.
Autonomous vehicles sense their environment and navigate without human interaction through the use of cameras and sensors. Good examples would be current vehicles that help drivers stay in the correct lane, park or apply the brakes if an obstacle is sensed.
The Society of Automotive Engineers defines five different levels for autonomous vehicles, beginning with warnings that don’t control the car to driverless vehicles that require no human intervention.
Test-driving driverless cars
Rideshare company Uber is one of the leaders in driverless autonomous vehicle technology.
The company is test-driving autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Arizona, although with a human in the front seat in case anything goes awry.
Uber briefly suspended some of its testing in March when an autonomous vehicle was involved in a crash in Arizona.
Fallible humans at the wheel
So, just how safe are driverless cars?
A lot safer than cars with fallible humans at the wheel.
According to the US Department of Transportation, in 2015, 94 percent of automobile crashes in the US are caused by human error resulting in more than 35,000 fatalities.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimatesonce the technology is perfected, the use of autonomous vehicles could lead to an 80 percent reduction in road fatalities involving non-impaired drivers.
Unlike some states throwing up roadblocks to driverless vehicles, Florida Department of Transportation is paving the way for autonomous cars with the Florida Automated Vehicles (FAV) initiative.
Florida leading the way
Florida was the second state in the nation to authorize autonomous vehicle testing in 2012 and was the first state to authorize autonomous vehicle testing without a driver behind the wheel.
In January, the US Department of Transportation recognized the Central Florida Autonomous Vehicle Partnership in Orlando as one of 10 designated proving ground pilot sites.
Get ready, Treasure Coast
From an article in Crain’s: “The designation gives Central Florida a major opportunity for the region to prepare [for] and understand all the impacts of autonomous transportation by providing a foundation for the safe testing, application, demonstration and deployment of new technologies.”
What will be the upshot of autonomous vehicles for the Treasure Coast? Exciting times, to be sure.
SAE automated vehicle classifications
The levels indicate the amount of autonomous control
Level 0: Automated system issues warnings but has no vehicle control.
Level 1 (hands on): Driver and automated system shares control over the vehicle. An example would be Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) where the driver controls steering and the automated system controls speed. Using Parking Assistance, steering is automated while speed is manual. The driver must be ready to retake full control at any time. Lane Keeping Assistance (LKA) Type II is a further example of level 1 self driving.
Level 2 (hands off): The automated system takes full control of the vehicle (accelerating, braking, and steering). The driver must monitor the driving and be prepared to immediately intervene at any time if the automated system fails to respond properly. The shorthand ”hands off” is not meant to be taken literally. In fact, contact between hand and wheel is often mandatory during SAE 2 driving, to confirm that the driver is ready to intervene.
Level 3 (eyes off): The driver can safely turn their attention away from the driving tasks, e.g. the driver can text or watch a movie. The vehicle will handle situations that call for an immediate response, like emergency braking. The driver must still be prepared to intervene within some limited time, specified by the manufacturer, when called upon by the vehicle to do so.
Level 4 (mind off): As with level 3, but no driver attention is ever required for safety, i.e. the driver may safely go to sleep or leave the driver’s seat. Self driving is supported only in limited areas (geofenced) or under special circumstances, like traffic jams. Outside of these areas or circumstances, the vehicle must be able to safely abort the trip, i.e. park the car, if the driver does not retake control.
Level 5 (wheel optional): No human intervention is required. An example would be a robotic taxi.