Connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technology has had a lot of attention, both within the transportation sector and in mass media. There’s good reason for this attention; CAV offers exciting possibilities and will undoubtedly change the way we, as transportation professionals, design and implement transportation solutions.
From the trucking industry, to airport parking, to college campus shuttles, the ramifications for how we design and build transportation infrastructure are far-reaching—and the benefits CAV offers are numerous.
Humans are notoriously bad drivers: each year in the United States there are 6.5 million reported crashes, of which 35,000 are fatal. Over 90% of these are caused by human error. CAV promises to significantly reduce this number. When you add the economic and societal benefits this technology could bring—greater efficiency as we transport goods nationwide; significant reductions in time spent stuck in traffic each year—it’s no wonder people have become enamored by the idea.
However, public perception and the reality of where we are with CAV tends to be off. These misunderstandings cause problems. When people are too trusting of a relatively new and untested technology, accidents can happen, with potentially fatal results.
When can we expect CAV?
So, what is a realistic view of where we are with CAV technology? Most experts believe that, within a decade, we will see this technology being used consistently on freeways for transporting goods, etc. But in terms of the general public using this technology consistently in day-to-day life, we are probably still several decades away from this reality. There are several roadblocks standing in the way of CAV technology currently, including:
- Substandard roads/infrastructure
- Lack of market saturation (for communication between vehicles to occur, all or most cars would need to be equipped with CAV capabilities)
- Public backlash over past failures/job security fears
None of these barriers are insurmountable. Eventually we will get there. And in the meantime, there are steps infrastructure owners and operators (IOO) can take to prepare. Our transportation team at Mead & Hunt is ready to take on new challenges and incorporate this new technology into our transportation solutions. Our top priority is and will continue to be the safety of the motoring public.