Car crashes are caused by distracted driving, driving while intoxicated, reckless driving, among other things. So given our tendency to contribute to the high number of car crashes every year, maintaining safety is part of designing innovative vehicles with great features such as automatic speed reduction, or automatic braking. However, not all technologies are efficient at all times. As excited as we may be about these cool new advances, it’s important to know how safe it is to use most automated car technologies on the road.
Types of Automated Technologies in Modern Cars
A collision avoidance system uses technology that detects collisions before they occur and warns the driver. The car has sensors that detect approaching objects, such as other cars or pedestrians. The driver immediately receives warning alerts through beeps or flashes on the screen.
Automatic steering is part of an advanced cruise control system that allows the car to drive itself. Without the driver’s input, the car automatically adjusts the speed and steering controls. This is useful when drivers fall asleep on the road or drive in conditions, such as rain or night, where they cannot see properly. The car has sensors that humans do not have, so the safety of driving is increased.
A GPS navigation system helps drivers to navigate their trips to any location. The automated system tells drivers about the approaching roads or highway exits that they should take. When drivers know where they are going, they spend less time on the road and reduce their chances of getting into accidents.
All types of accidents and injuries can be avoided with these technologies in place. Cruise control reduces the car’s speed, which reduces the risks of fender benders and head-on collisions. A collision avoidance system detects objects on all sides of the vehicle, so drivers avoid crashes that involve blind spots.
Common Problems With Technology
There are technical problems that occur with most technologies. Autonomous cars rely on power from the electrical system to work. If the power goes out, the technologies malfunction or stops working altogether. Some cars give out the wrong warning alerts, while other systems freeze in place or work more slowly. Drivers will not be safe on the road if the safety systems break down. Many technical problems occur as a result of normal wear and tear. Regular maintenance is necessary to keep the car running correctly.
There are plans in the works for entirely self-driving cars, without even the intervention of drivers needed, but even those could be subjected to hackers, once they hit the roads. The recent Tesla crash also definitely put some more scrutiny on the development of these technologies, since the collision occurred while the car was on autopilot and could not discern a white trailer from the bright sky.
So, there are some considerations that need to be taken for drivers to truly feel safe with the many automatic features out there, and the ones to come. For the most part though, with significant oversight and care, cars can be far safer, with the inclusion of automated driving features.
The recent fatal Tesla car accident in San Francisco that saw a passenger car crashing through a collapsed concrete safety barrier throws serious doubt on self-driving cars as the top trend for automobiles in 2018. Walter Huang, the driver, was an Apple engineer on his way to work when the accident happened. He had complained about the autopilot feature of his car and in fact, told his dealer that the autopilot swiveled to a barrier 7-10 times; the very same one that his Model X hit. Unfortunately, they could not identify the same veering tendency at the dealership.
Tesla confirmed that autopilot was engaged but the driver ignored several prompts and had both hands off the steering wheel moments prior to the crash. In its blog, the company declared that their data shows that Tesla drivers had driven this same highway stretch over 85,000 times from its autopilot roll-out in 2015; and that about 200 successful trips were made on the same road without incidence.
The crash attenuator was also unable to cushion the impact during the collision; something that in proper condition could have saved Huang’s life. Apparently, the barrier Huang’s Tesla slammed against, had collapsed 11 days ago from a similar accident. According to Tesla, “Autopilot was engaged with the adaptive cruise control follow-distance set to minimum,”. Furthermore, both hands were off the steering wheel for around 6 seconds and he had an unobstructed view of the crushed barrier for 5 seconds.
The investigation also showed that there was a break between the asphalt and cement and two white lines where Huang swerved while heading to the 85 carpool lane. According to Sean Price, science director of an environmental start-up (as told to Dan Noyes as they recreated the fatal route in a similar Model X),”I mean, you have to think like a computer, right? A computer doesn’t know. It has no logic, so if it sees a line, it might think that’s a lane.” In effect, the autopilot on the SUV might have guided it to the barrier – and the reason why it displayed the same tendency in the past.
Despite Tesla’s popularity, this was not an isolated incident. Only a month before the Mountain View crash, a Tesla Model S rear-ended a fire truck in Culver, California. A year ago, another driver with his Tesla S autopilot engaged died in a deadly Florida crash. Investigations reveal that the Tesla autopilot system may not be that reliable in predicting crashes.
“Autosteer is not designed to, and will not, steer Model S around objects partially or completely in the driving lane.” — From the Tesla owner’s Manual
There would be many “ifs” in this case, one of which is, whether the 5 seconds have been enough to prevent the crash or at least lessen its impact? That being said, the incident is a grim testament that drivers should not relinquish total control. Present technology is not ready for total autonomous driving but drivers have a false sense of security. They are increasingly not mindful of the dangers of allowing your car complete control of the wheel; especially when you are tired, sleepy, drunk or otherwise unfit to drive. While you can relax a bit, being attentive and responsive to prompts and warnings, keeping your hands on the steering wheel and your feet on the pedals will make driving safer for you and those you encounter on the road. Accountability works both ways: driver and car maker.
Both pages disappeared within minutes after his tweets.
The Tesla and SpaceX Facebook pages weren’t “lame” in terms of followers though. Each page had over 2.6 million Likes and Follows and had very high engagement rates. If you’re one of those followers who was sad to see the pages go, you can still find their photos and video on Flickr , YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
And speaking of Instagram, one Twitter user pointed out to Musk that Facebook also owns the photo-sharing app.
“Instagram’s probably ok imo, so long as it stays fairly independent. I don’t use FB and never have, so don’t think I’m some kind of martyr or my companies are taking a huge blow. Also, we don’t advertise or pay for endorsements, so a don’t care,” he replied.
“We’ve never advertised with FB,” Musk added. “None of my companies buy advertising or pay famous people to fake endorse. Product lives or dies on its own merits.”
According to the tech mogul however, the deletion of his companies’ pages isn’t a political statement. Nor was it just a response to some random challenge.
“It’s not a political statement and I didn’t do this because someone dared me to do it. Just don’t like Facebook. Gives me the willies. Sorry,” Musk tweeted.
Tesla may have perked interest in electric cars but clearly, China is leading sales in six global markets with 579,000 units sold in 2017. According to a Statista report written by Felix Richter, this represents but 2.3% of the country’s total passenger car sales. However, in terms of percentage, Norway topped the charts with 36.7% based on 58,000 electric cards sold last year. This market share of one electric car per three sold in Norway is significant because only Norway showed double-digit figures among the 6 countries included in the report. In terms of total numbers, the U.S posted almost 200,000 units sold or 1.2% of its automobile market. Strangely, in countries that pushed electric mobility and clean air like Japan, Germany, and the U.K., its popularity only ranged from 1.3%- 1.8%
Byton, a concept car that that is the product of the collaboration of between a China car-maker and a noted European car designer made an impact at CES 2018. More astounding designs and concepts designed to curb fuel emissions were presented at the Geneva International Motor Show from March 8 -18, 2018. Electrical vehicles ranging from sedans to SUVs from Tesla, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Hyundai, Aston Martin, Subaru, BMW, Nissan, Chevrolet, Renault and other major names in the industry jostled for supremacy. Here are some models that could potentially unseat Tesla – which one is your favorite?
Plug-and-drive cars may be the wave of the future, and certainly for a good reason. With recent fuel-emission scandals wracking the automotive industry, attention is now focused on cars that are eco-friendly, sleek and high-performing. The EV has gone on from being a novelty to the future of transportation.
The industry is projected to grow at a rate of 72% and according to Bloomberg, 1 out of 3 cars will be an EV by 2040. Wang Chuanfu, Chairman of BYD, one of China’s leading EV manufacturers makes a daring prediction that by 2030, all cars will be electrified. Five of the major deterrents to achieving this goal are:
lack of speed and compromised performance,
lack of charging points,
the perception of poor quality,
and restrictions on the safety of the materials used in the production of batteries.
China is stepping up production and with a huge potential market, it is no wonder that its manufacturers, like top seller BAIC, Cherry, SAIC, and BYD are predicted to produce 4.4 million cars per year by 2020 – overtaking Tesla’s target of 1 million cars. Recognizing the limitations of Chinese-produced EVs, BYD Vice-President Stella Li says, “We’re going to design a lot of sexy, nice, cool-looking cars.”
“All over the world, people are realizing that cars that run on fossil fuels are inefficient and a major threat to the planet.”