Driverless cars, the most courteous drivers

presented by SCC

Paul Godsmark is an engineer with experience all over the globe. Before moving to Canada a couple years ago, he had projects in 9 countries and on 4 continents. That included the lowest tech (gravel roads in Mozambique) all the way to the highest tech (Intelligent Transport Systems) for major infrastructure.

 

Cars without drivers; people without cars

Paul recently posted the following thoughts on an Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) blog:

What are we as a transportation profession doing about preparing for the biggest revolution that we will have seen on our road network since the invention of the car some 120 years ago? Why have we not already started planning for this inevitable paradigm shift that will transform not just our roads, but society as well? What should we do to prepare?

As this week’s show title suggests, we’re talking about driverless cars. Paul’s blog post assumes we’re close to seeing the technology on our local streets. How close are we?

 

Hey, have you seen my jetback?

I’m a child of the 80s, so seeing autonomous vehicles is nothing new to me. I know that most of them will fight crime, but some may be villainous. But seriously, does this technology really have an impact on ordinary people who live in ordinary places?

 

The most courteous driver is no driver at all.

Paul discusses some of traffic engineering concepts related to driverless cars. Google has made headlines recently about the tens of thousands of mileage their driverless car has had without incident. Paul gets into issues like human behavior and how this technology has the potential to dramatically reduce crashes on our streets.

 

Someone stole my car with their smart phone!

There are still kinks to be worked out in the tech, which is why you don’t see driverless cars parading around your town. Yet. Paul talks about some of the big challenges still to be resolved. The most critical is probably cyber-security. Computers can be hacked, and a computer would be driving the car.

 

Driverless cars can reduce sprawl…and make it worse.

All around the world, departments of transportation are shifting their attention from mid-20th century highway building to better networks for fundamental modes of travel – walking and biking. Will autonomous vehicles help or hurt community goals for livable and sustainable streets? People may opt to live in a densely populated area and choose not to own a vehicle since calling a driverless car would be an option. Or people may opt to live even further from their places of work and shopping, meaning long-distance “local” trips would continue our current sprawl habits. Paul doesn’t have a crystal ball, but he has put a lot of thought into some of these challenging issues.

 

Connect with our guest

Paul Godsmark (and his recent writing) can be quickly found online. But here are a few places to get you started.

 

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