Sunday, 31 August 2008

Intelligent cars with dumb drivers?

I wrote before about the idea of intelligent transport systems that allow cars to automatically drive people to destinations along highways that are excluded from human drivers.  I also mentioned about possible benefits of better packing density of cars on roads, fewer accidents and less congestion delay.  Much of this vision would be enhanced by inter-car communications, allowing the systems controlling the cars to talk to each other in a peer to peer type chain along a road.  

The EU has now agreed to reserve 30MHz of radio spectrum in the 5.9GHz band for precisely this function.  Of course they quote the same benefits, highlighting the number of road transport deaths due to accidents, and the amount of money lost due to congestion on European roads.  But can systems based on car to car communications provide any better information to drivers that they can act upon to attain these benefits?  Well I think it is marginal unless we take the bigger step of removing the driver from the control function of the car completely.  Making vehicles more intelligent without giving them control in place of humans is of little value.  This bigger step is much harder to achieve culturally.  It requires social change.  But one day we will.  

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