We are in the early stages of this overall CAV timeline, with many companies testing or piloting their technology on closed course and public roads, and automakers introducing advancing levels of driver assistance tools.
A recent fatal pedestrian collision by one automated vehicle testing team has intensified the discussion and debate concerning testing protocols, artificial intelligence readiness and sensor needs.
Will this and similar incidents motivate government agencies to more strictly regulate CAV testing in the name of public safety, impact the development cycle at one or more private companies, or in general impact the CAV implementation timeline at all? The answer to that question is still to be determined.
However, this incident is a strong reminder that while CAVs have the potential to significantly improve the safety of our roadways, the path towards this outcome will not be direct and there may be times when the appropriate balance between public safety and innovation will need to be reassessed.
CAV technologies will continue to be introduced to market incrementally, as the technology improves and consumers grow more comfortable with the idea of CAVs. Optimistic assumptions show fully automated vehicles being introduced to market in the 2020s. However, if technical challenges are more difficult to overcome than expected, they may not be available until later.
Katie McLaughlin is an associate consultant in WSP USA’s connected/automated vehicle practice. Her experience includes technical report development, transportation policy research and systems engineering.
[Editor’s Note: To learn more about how WSP supports the planning, deployment and maintenance of intelligent transportation systems and connected and automated vehicle projects across the U.S., visit www.advancingtransport.com.]
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