Self-Driving Vehicles Start Here Today: Attention Cowboys Fans

But are self-driving vehicles safe?

Three vans that move slowly without drivers will be available to ride around the stadiums/Six Flags area in Arlington starting today. Presumably other Texas cities are considering the use of self-driving vehicles. But while some people say they are the future of transportation, most are frightened.

Proponents of this new technology say that these vehicles are far safer than the ones on the road now. With 84,000 crashes each year just here in Tarrant and Dallas Counties, that’s hard to dispute. And disability advocates argue that handicapped people will be able to get around easier.

On the other hand, skeptics point to several fatal collisions and argue that there are not enough safety procedures to protect the driving public from robotic vehicles on the open roads.

Both sides are right.

Congrats to Arlington, “America’s Dream City,” for pushing the Dallas-Fort Worth area forward and trying to make our streets safer. The new service from an exciting California start up company called starts this weekend. Next weekend, the hours will be from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

I am always advocating for safer roads and am planning to ride one of the vans tomorrow to learn more. I’ll give you a full report Monday.

The problem is that the information technologists have not yet figured out a way to invent a vehicle that will always be perfect given the many variables that affect driving safety. There are unpredictable forces at work, like drivers making sudden stops and lane changes. Human nature being what it is, there may never be a way to predict the movement of other vehicles on the road.

Perhaps these newfangled vehicles need their own lanes, the way there are HOV and bicycle lanes now. Until that happens, artificial intelligence will be curtailed. These vehicles are only being used on routes for the foreseeable future.

Problems with technology limit their safety

The current technology is currently not at the stage where all moving and stopped motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians can be quickly spotted and analyzed. Radar, lasers, sensors, cameras and GPS have their limits. Their images work from simulations that convert driving logs from practice drives the vehicles have taken on certain routes into real world data. It’s like a transportation version of SimCity where software engineers design a new world of highways, intersections, and vehicles moving around.

But it is incredibly hard to anticipate human behavior and how people will drive, ride motorcycles and bicycles, and walk. How can a driverless vehicle know and react when someone “jay walks” or suddenly swerves around it to pass? The researchers are mapping codes and running algorithms trying to solve these thorny problems but in the meantime, it’s a pretty cool way to get back to your car after a Cowboys or Rangers game.

Arlington’s test run

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