As cities continue to grow, there will undoubtedly be more road construction. Everything from widening roads, building new roads, and basic maintenance will be an ongoing factor to driving in downtown cities.
As transportation continues to speed forward, policy makers and local officials are wrestling with the fact that autonomous cars will soon be integrated into our public roads. While self-driving cars show great promise to increase safety and decrease casualties on our roadways, many questions how autonomous cars will act around construction zones.
Construction zones are hectic areas that demand particular attention in this dynamic environment. Not only does construction on city roadways cause traffic problems, but they also pose unexpected complications that drivers must react to in a split second.
As self-driving technology becomes more advanced we will see a change in everything from how people interact with content during their drive, how our roadways are built, and even shifts in technology that is used in city construction zones. Let’s take a look at some of the things city planners must consider!
Uncontrolled Environments Pose Problems To Self-Driving Cars
Automakers like Tesla and Google are pushing forward to deliver autonomous cars at incredible speeds. What these companies are quickly finding is that the algorithms used to drive autonomous cars work best in a static environment like highways and rural areas.
However, when you toss constantly changing variables in construction zones, things get especially complicated for self-driving car technology to perform safely.
From December 2015 to November 2016, self-driving car companies have collected data regarding what triggered the humans to have to take control of the vehicle and what caused crashes. Construction zones were noted to be one of one of the most common factors that humans had to take control.
Driverless technology depends on a broad range of data to navigate city streets. Things like GPS, cameras, radar, and access to city databases help autonomous cars make instantaneous decisions. However, as it turns out, many State and local DOTs also do not have a database that shows where presently active construction sites are.
Without these databases, autonomous cars are left to react on their own in dynamic situations that can often cause negative results to other drivers and pedestrians sharing the road.
U.S. City Roads Were Created For Humans
Our city roads were constructed for motorists that were human.
In the same time, our current city construction safety equipment and practices were done for building professionals and human workers. Since towns preserve continuing servicing of their city roadways building personnel and policy makers will require coming together to locate a way to help, autonomous automobiles navigate development zones safely.
Navigation abilities of autonomous cars will be limited due to the nature that our roadways and construction zones are currently setups. We must reexamine our road construction practices if we want to provide the best opportunity to integrate self-driving cars into the general public.
If your construction worker utilizes hand gestures to guide traffic, an autonomous car is not able to reliably follow path due to limitations of onboard camera systems or other mitigating circumstances in the environment. This puts construction workers at risk because present self-driving vehicle technology can not interpret directions that are little that human motorists can react to appropriately.
Among the leading technologies that vehicles use to understand their atmosphere is high-level camera systems.
While these cameras are of good use in lots of situations, they’re not capable of performing when the sunshine is found at specific angles that are certain or directly behind traffic lights. This implies that, with regards to time of day, autonomous automobiles are not able to navigate intricate surroundings and may pose dangers to other motorists and development workers.
Since several vehicles exit and enter building zones, self-driving cars could be a problem for construction workers in particular situations that desire interpretation in circumstances that are complex.
How Can We Make Construction Zones Safe For Self-Driving Cars?
There is no need to make extreme, sweeping changes that are complete to our infrastructure to aid autonomous cars on our inner-city streets.
Policy makers and metropolis planners only need to consider tiny adjustments that can accommodate the weaknesses of autonomous vehicles like how you can interpret a construction worker’s hand gestures.
Since computers observe and interpret details differently than people, policy-makers should appear to leverage strengths of cars that are autonomous while reducing hazards from their weaknesses.
- Automakers can produce self-driving cars to have no blind places, as well as their systems, can keep the automobile aware of its surrounding at all times.
- Autonomous vehicles will never drive drunk or be distracted while driving. The automobile never gets exhausted or distracted and can maintain total get a handle on, since there is absolutely no human driver.
- Onboard computer technologies have response times that are quicker than people.
Here are some simple ways construction workers and city planners can improve communication with autonomous cars. These changes will allow self-driving technology to work safer and more efficiently in dynamic environments like city construction zones.
1. Integrating Wireless Beacons On Building Workers
One way to minimize the risks of autonomous cars around construction zones is to have instead of relying on hand indicators, building employees use beacons or applications.
These beacons that are wireless would talk straight with autonomous vehicles in a way which is conducive to how their PC methods interact and respond to the planet around them.
2. Updating Infrastructure To Talk With Self-Driving Cars
Another way that small support adjustments can help autonomous vehicles navigate inner city road building is to leverage wireless beacons on street emergency markers and our visitor’s lights. Autonomous cars count on on cameras to interpret the planet around them since our current metropolis streets and building markers rely on visible cues.
Research has demonstrated that these cameras are rendered useless centered about the sun’s position along with other variables throughout the day.
Policy makers can use beacons to transmit the position of current road markers around construction zones along with modern street construction marking resources. The addition of beacons will better accommodate info is received by personal computers and enable driverless cars to navigate development zones with an increase of safety.
3. Physical Indications To Alert Humans Of Autonomous Cars
A way that infrastructure changes can aid boost how autonomous automobiles interact with building zones is to make them more predictable.
This approach would mimic the Student Driver signal placed on the cars of new motorists. This sign is demonstrated on the outside of practice automobiles to inform other drivers to be aware of immediate actions and spend careful attention in the immediate area.
While these changes to our infrastructure would be modest adjustments, boost security would be provided by them for the traditional community and building employees. Construction organizing will have to contain procurement and keeping of those beacons, nevertheless, they’d provide a clear way for cars and other vehicles to interact with construction zones in a manner that is safe.
Cities are constantly changing, and if the past can show us anything then we know that if our city planners and lawmakers work together we can all make our public roads a safe place as autonomous cars are integrated into our daily lives!
Chris is a Copywriter in Orlando, FL who specializes in digital marketing, emerging technologies, and transportation issues.