Road construction seems to be a constant sight in many urban cities. Whether they are building new roads, fixing existing roadways, or making the driving environment safer for the public, construction crews are faced with an array of challenges and safety concerns each day. The same safety concerns apply to drivers and pedestrians in the area, and the risks will continue to increase as more people drive in downtown areas.
As autonomous cars continue to grow in popularity and automakers, produce more self-driving cars, construction zone safety will be a primary concern for workers and drivers alike. This new technology will rely on new and improved networking capabilities to ensure data is transmitted quickly and securely.
While autonomous car technology is improving at incredible speeds, this technology will not only need to control vehicles in controlled settings like highways, the software and algorithms will also need to navigate highly complicated areas like construction zones. Without this ability, autonomous cars will be rendered worthless and will be deemed a public hazard if they cause accidents on our public roads.
Old Construction Equipment Could Cause More Crashes
Today’s roads and construction safety equipment was made for humans. Relying heavily on visual signals and learned processes, drivers and construction crews work together to navigate lane changes and other working conditions. Autonomous cars are being developed in a world that is ever-changing, and the technology self-driving cars utilize are often ill-equipped for many of the challenges autonomous vehicles will experience in the coming years.
One example of when today’s construction equipment could fail the needs of autonomous cars is if self-driving cars rely on cameras. The sun’s position in the sky changes throughout the day and these changes cast shadows. If an autonomous car experiences a shadow or is blinded by the positioning of the sun relative to this position on the road, the self-driving car could misinterpret its environment, and this could cause a crash.
This type of result can only be prevented if an autonomous car can interpret its surrounding based on information that is not relying solely on visualization. Automakers and software engineers need to find ways to integrate other technology into autonomous cars that allow for changing environments.
The only way that autonomous cars will be allowed on public roads is if they can navigate public roads safely and efficiently.
3 Ways To Modernize Construction Equipment For Autonomous Cars
Since autonomous car technology can’t rely on cameras and other visualization tools to navigate their environment, construction crews will need to use an array of beacons and other technologies to ensure the safety in a construction zone.
1. Integrating Wireless Beacons On Construction Workers
One method to decrease the dangers of autonomous automobiles around construction zones would be to get construction employees to use wireless beacons or programs rather than relying on hand signs. This approach will transmit relevant information to autonomous cars in a way that they can understand and will decrease the likelihood of a collision.
These wireless beacons would communicate directly with autonomous automobiles in a manner that’s conducive to how their computer systems interact and respond to the world around them.
2. Updating Infrastructure To Communicate With Self-Driving Cars
Another way that little infrastructure changes may help autonomous automobiles navigate construction zones would be to leverage wireless beacons on our traffic lights and street emergency markers.
Policy makers can utilize wireless beacons to transmit the location of present road markers around building zones along with contemporary street building marking tools. The inclusion of wireless tags will better adapt how computer systems get data and permit driverless automobiles to navigate construction zones with greater security.
3. Physical Evidence To Alert People Of Autonomous Cars
A third way that infrastructure changes will help improve how autonomous automobiles communicate with building zones would be to make them more predictable. Since autonomous cars will be interacting with non-autonomous cars and pedestrians, steps should be taken to ensure that all individuals in the immediate area know they are close to a self-driving car.
This approach could imitate the “Student Driver” sign placed on the automobiles of drivers are present. This sign can be displayed on the exterior of the autonomous vehicles as a means to alert other motorists to know about prompt action and pay careful attention from the immediate location. The same kind of visual warning may be used for autonomous automobiles, so individuals in the neighborhood of the autonomous vehicle can respond accordingly if desired.
When these adjustments to our infrastructure could be minor alterations, they would offer increase security for construction employees and the general public. Construction preparation would need to include procurement and positioning of these beacons, but they might provide a clear way for autonomous automobiles along with other vehicles to socialize with building zones securely.
Autonomous Vehicles Are The Future Of Transportation
The development of driverless cars and its constant connection to IoT devices raise other concerns outside of construction safety. Policy makers and technologies will need to consider security issues, privacy concerns, and many other aspects that might still not be thought of.
Like it or not, driverless cars as well as the IoT technologies that communicate them are apparently here to remain and will undoubtedly continue to progress into the not-yet-thought-of ways. While the future is uncertain, we can be assured that the future of transportation will rely on autonomous vehicles and we will need to think of new and innovative ways to ensure that autonomous cars navigate our city roads safely and efficiently!
Chris is an Digital Strategy Consultant in Orlando, FL who helps small business owners grow their business and make more money. He is passionate about digital marketing, emerging technologies, and transportation issues.