Connected, self-driving cars often make the news, for their latest technology developments, or when they are involved in accidents, but how far can we trust them?
To drive or be driven, that is the question. Connected, self-driving cars often make the news, for their latest technology developments, or when they are involved in accidents.
As we advance toward the ultimate goal of autonomous driving, cars are becoming more like a computer on wheels. Some need 100 million lines of code to run all the software, which is more than certain air force jet fighters and domestic airliners.
We’ve seen it in the movies and now it’s becoming reality. Driver profiles recognize your face as you approach the car, or require a fingerprint to start the motor. Software packages let you connect your smartphone with the car, so you can ask your virtual assistant to do things for you as you drive home, “Hey Alexa, can you turn up the heating, start the washing machine and make that dinner reservation please”.
Thousands of sensors allow the car to do everything from tighten the seatbelt safely to fit the passenger, to “seeing” around the car, in order to keep a safe distance from other traffic or assisted parking, and the list of options goes on.
Artificial intelligence or algorithms will help cars to become even more intelligent and learn about their occupants, different road traffic situations and the functioning of the vehicle’s components and systems. Who knows what fully automated cars will be like by the time they finally become the norm.
It’s all about trust and safety
But no matter what the vehicle, driver and passenger safety must come first. Despite all the road safety measures in place, the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Status Report on Road Safety, confirms 1,3 million road deaths globally, per year.
When accidents involve autonomous vehicles, the media goes into overdrive, bringing up all the usual questions – whose fault was it, the car or driver? Who’s liable? Was there a security breach or was it a technical error?
And yet those terrible global road toll statistics we’ve seen for years, which are based on human drivers, seem to fade into the background, because the vehicle made the mistake. But that’s human nature. We still feel more in control if we are driving even though we humans make loads of mistakes, so in the end, it boils down to one thing – can we really trust an autonomous vehicle?
After all if we’re going to put our lives in the hands of a vehicle, we want it to be 100 percent safe. This means safe from being hacked, providing a ‘run-safe’ mode if anomalies are detected, and ensuring our private data is safe.
Standards behind connected cars
Behind the scenes, standards are greatly contributing towards realizing autonomous vehicles. IEC International Standards ensure the quality, interoperability and reliability of many key components of autonomous vehicles. Take sensors as an example.
Thousands are used in self-driving vehicles for navigation and guidance, driving and safety, and performance of the car’s basic internal systems. IEC standardization work also covers other areas, such as artificial intelligence, biometrics, electric vehicle charging and lighting.
Very importantly, IEC and ISO information and communication technology Standards help tackle cyber security issues. They include IT security techniques, cloud computing and distributed platforms, data management and interchange and IoT and related technologies, for the increasing number of software programmes being used, as well as biometrics and augmented and virtual reality, which are making their way into connected car navigation and access security systems.
Rethinking urban transport
On top of all this, the question arises, how will autonomous vehicles fit into existing infrastructures? Will urban dwellers even want to buy their own cars in another decade?
Cities and their transport infrastructures are becoming smarter. Private transport could look entirely different in five or ten years, as tech and automotive manufacturers join forces to develop cheaper, greener mobility fleet services, and ride-hailing (similar to a taxi service) and ride-sharing (like car-pooling), ordered and paid on a smartphone become the norm…only time will tell.