Published: July 20, 2016 | Berlin, Germany
According to a new white paper from HERE and SBD research, new levels of vehicle automation will increase traffic congestion in the foreseeable future, and it’s up to the automotive industry to enhance its collaboration in order to create a seamless transition as we reach these new levels of automation.
Relaxing and productive commutes with self-driving vehicles freely moving us around in safety and comfort will one day be the case, but introducing autonomy to the world is an iterative process that relies on sharing and connecting all aspects of the development — from data and systems to technical innovations and end users.
Co-author of the study Andrew Hart, Director at SBD, said:
Autonomous cars have the potential in the long-term to revolutionize mobility and radically improve the safety of our roads. However, the journey towards the fully autonomous car is full of potholes, which may create short-term pains in unexpected ways. The automotive industry and road authorities will need to work carefully together to navigate around these potholes, in order to gain the trust of consumers and reap the societal benefits of this new technology.
While basic levels of automation could have a small positive impact in helping to ease traffic congestion, higher levels of automation could have a detrimental effect on congestion when the user adoption rate is low.
Co-author of the study Carrie Cox, Senior Product Marketing Manager at HERE, said:
The combined power of vehicle and road sensor data, autonomous vehicles and sophisticated real-time location services will ultimately decrease traffic congestion. But how we get to that objective and what it takes to get there, in terms of building the necessary digital infrastructure at scale, is a call to action for all of us in the auto industry. Greater collaboration is needed to ensure drivers and road operators alike can seamlessly transition into the era of automated vehicles.
The author points out a common misconception in the industry: that self-driving cars will make the traffic we experience today obsolete. While in the long term we should expect to see fewer accidents and, ultimately, fewer vehicles on the road, it will take some time before autonomous vehicles fully transform the way we travel.
On-board sensors are limited to a certain distance, for example, and they can’t see through buildings, whereas HD maps provide a much longer electronic horizon. This enables drivers – or cars – to make better decisions.
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