The big promise of driverless cars is that they’ll save lives by preventing crashes.
Computers don’t fall asleep, get drunk, or glance at that tweet. Robocar technology could save tens, even hundreds, of thousands of lives each year. Such cars remain years away, of course, but you can find an autonomous vehicle saving lives on the road right now, in Colorado.
The irony is, this vehicle is designed to crash. That’s how it saves lives.
It’s an autonomous impact protection vehicle, which you probably know as one of those weird trucks with a big orange or yellow bumper on the back. Such vehicles inch along behind the crews filling potholes, striping lanes, or clearing clutter from along the roadway. That bumper is a metal crumple zone designed to absorb the impact of an errant car.
Until now, there’s always been a human at the wheel of that truck. Today, the Colorado Department of Transportation is deploying an autonomous impact protection vehicle to shake down technology that could eliminate one of the riskiest jobs on the road.
“People often talk about the coming job displacement of automated vehicles—well this is actually one job I want to get people out of,” says Shailen Bhatt, the state DOT’s executive director. “The idea that we have a truck thats job is to get hit, with someone sitting in it, well that doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
To read more of the original article, go to Wired.