Changing Vehicle Technology

As we have seen, the advent of collaborative consumption is reshaping the automotive industry and mobility practices (Hajkowicz et al., 2012). The future will also include autonomous or driverless cars (Corwin et al., 2015). Self-driving vehicles have been widely anticipated and their commercial introduction is becoming a reality (Barr & Ramsey, 2015). Google’s driverless cars have already driven more than a million miles in autonomous mode. Ford, BMW, Daimler, and Cadillac are developing plans for vehicles quite distinct from those of the present (Corwin et al., 2015). Toyota expects to introduce its first self-driving car by 2020 (Caddy, 2015). As he stated at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show, US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Fox expects self-driving cars to be in use all over the world by 2025 (Hauser, 2015).

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Yet another innovation in vehicle technology has been in the area of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communications that can potentially avoid road hazards and accidents (Corwin et al., 2015). A V2V communication warns the driver of an impending collision, provides traffic in view, suggests rerouting, and so on. Data like the car’s position, speed, steering-wheel position, and brake status are broadcast to other vehicles within a few hundred meters in order to make them aware of what is unfolding around them (Knight, 2015). BMW’s app, called Real Time Traffic Information, uses the same technology to provide precise information on the traffic situation. Movement profiles downloaded from the network, GPS data available from vehicle fleets, smartphone apps, and police reports alert users to a threat and suggest potential alternative routes (BMW Insights, 2013). According to Forbes, automatic emergency braking (AEB) is another safety feature that about ten of the top automakers, representing 57 percent of global vehicle sales in 2014, are developing (Yvkoff, 2015). The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s dedicated Vehicle Research Center will be incorporating the AEB feature across its vehicle lineup (Yvkoff, 2015). The same institute revealed the technology has been shown to reduce insurance injury claims by as much as 35 percent (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2015).

According to the US Department of Transportation (Sheehan, 2015), which is conducting research on V2I communications, this technology can enable application designs for the avoidance and alleviation of vehicle crashes, particularly for those that are not addressed by V2V communications alone. The technology communicates with vehicles through infrastructure such as traffic signals, dedicated installations, and state vehicles, to convey information to drivers and pedestrians about crosswalk warnings, stop sign gaps, curver speed warnings, and so on. Impacts projected by the Federal Highway Administration include a 20 percent reduction in vehicle emissions, a 50 percent decrease in pedestrian conflicts, and a significant reduction in collisions, injuries, and fatalities at intersections (Arnold & Walker, 2014).

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