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Transport & Planning

Racing towards
a self-driving future

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Self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic idea but a reality. The world’s leading vehicle manufacturers are rethinking their entire business model working to develop autonomous technologies. But how do we ensure these new possibilities and technologies for semi self-driving cars will be successfully implemented?

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Benefits of platooning

Platooning is a method of lining semi self-driving cars in columns where they follow each other and drive at a constant speed.

Tests show that vehicle platoons can increase the capacity of roads, lessen congestion, reduce fuel consumption, decrease vehicle emissions and increase traffic safety.

Coping with traditional cars

With semi self-driving cars operating among us, how will they interact with traditional vehicles? We will likely be in for an extensive transitional period when self-driving cars will share the road with traditional vehicles.

Education around the integration of new and old vehicles will be necessary to ensure a smooth and seamless transition. The good news is that early tests into this road interaction look very promising.

Driver education

As when first learning to drive, there will need to be a comprehensive education programme ready for drivers to understand the advanced technology behind semi self-driving cars. Driving schools, vehicle manufacturers, importers and dealers will all have a part to play in developing the necessary ecosystem to enable self-driving cars to thrive.

Driver experience

Long trips on motorways can be monotonous at the best of times, and the advent of semi self-driving cars is likely to add to that tedium on the road.

Therefore, the driver’s experience in a semi self-driving car needs to be comfortable and safe so as to avoid any temptation or opportunity to interrupt the flow of the system.

Infrastructure

Unless every single car on the road is semi self-driving, there will still need to be road signs and traffic lights on the road. Road signs aren’t just for vehicle drivers – pedestrians and cyclists also need to be taken into account. Once semi self-driving cars are introduced to the road, there will need to be adaptations made to road signs, markings and traffic lights. How this future will shape up and what it will look like are interesting, yet unexplored territories, to date.

PETER MORSINK, SENIOR CONSULTANT TRANSPORT & ROAD SAFETY, ROYAL HASKONINGDHV


‘An integrated perspective is crucial. A three-pronged approach connecting hardware (the technology and infrastructure), software (using skills, knowledge coupled with insights into human behaviour) and orgware (community and stakeholder engagement) will be vital to ensure the sustainable development of self-driving cars to help enhance road safety in the long term.’

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