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Articles on Automotive - Vehicular

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The past eight installments of this series covered a lot of ground -- some technical, but mostly socio-economic and conceptual. But in the debate over the pros and cons of human versus robotic drivers, is it not possible to have the wisdom to take the best of both worlds? In early articles I acknowledged some of the advantages of Highly-Automated Vehicles (HAVs), including:

What is interesting, and the focus of this installment, is the glaring disparity between the magnitude of information available about a vehicle or driver's performance and the general disinterest in examining it. This disparity is not a technological problem. It is largely an institutional and attitudinal problem. Or one might characterize it as a cultural problem. Or a values problem in a money-oriented society. Nevertheless, it raises an important point about driverless vehicles: While a vehicle's brain may contribute to and/or improve safety (fewer accidents and incidents) and performance (e.g., better mileage, less pollution), this brain's extraordinary analytical capabilities may be pointless because no non-robot is likely to ever examine the data.

When an asteroid strikes a planet, things tend to change quickly. Most other changes occur gradually, even while a small handful are occasionally more significant. These latter changes are sometimes referred to as "paradigm shifts," largely because they affect so many things around them, and cause such dramatic changes in the things they affect directly.

At the rudimentary level at which most crossing procedures are executed, schoolbus drivers are supposed to "direct" the students across the roadway when they are certain that either the traffic has been stopped in both directions or it is so distant (if even visible) that the students could easily complete their crossing before any oncoming vehicles reach the bus. The bus would obviously have its red flashers and stop arm engaged as a "fail safe."

Drummed into my head as a schoolchild was the mantra, "Cross at the Green, Not In Between." This slogan still provides the basis for Today's thinking about following the pedestrian path to and from school or a student's bus stop. When last year, a study of 7,000 pedestrian accidents in New York City over a four-year period was released, its findings turned this century-old cliché on its head. The implications for the pupil transportation industry are dramatic, and should awaken all of us to a new reality that may save hundreds if not thousands of lives a year, since most vehicle-pedestrian accidents happen to students walking or cycling to school, as well most of those traveling by schoolbus who are struck when crossing by third-party vehicles.

The computer program LS-DYNA3D was used to simulate the behavior of a specific, though representative, heavy truck cab-over tractor-trailer vehicle during a full 180° rollover event. These simulations provide a key component in the development of a physical testing procedure for evaluating structural integrity and occupant crash protection system designs in heavy trucks.

The topic of Connected Vehicles and Autonomous Vehicles is not new, yet advances in computing power, wireless capabilities, and soft ware development are taking implementation predictions from the not-too-distance future and placing them in the here and now. Emerging vehicle technologies foreshadow a world in which sensors and soft ware will replace humans in the driver's seat.

Hybrid cars have been on US roads for many years, starting with Honda InSight (1999) and Toyota Prius(2000) in mass production.

In crashes between two automobiles, it is generally assumed that the lighter vehicle will suffer more damage and that its occupants will suffer higher levels of injury.

One of the unfortunate problems with non-news-oriented magazines is the juxtaposition of their readers' limited long-term memories coupled with the publishers' reluctance to repeat themes (much less whole articles) that are not linked to stories that reflect continuing news or problems.

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