AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES  The distraction factor is not limited to just drivers

Moreover, owing ironically to the advance-

ment and proliferation of other technol- ogy, we as a species are for all intents and purposes getting worse at driving. The US Department of Transportation (USDOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administra- tion (NHTSA) in October 2016 announced a dramatic 10 per cent increase in fatalities for the first half of that year over the same period the previous year and the first US increase relative to vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in 50 years – with distracted driving cited as one of the key causes. The distraction factor, as NHTSA has recog-

nized, is hardly limited to drivers, with pedes- trian use of mobile devices also contributing to a growing trend of distracted walking. On the day that I was writing this piece in early February I actually had a particularly harrowing near miss with a pedestrian on a major arterial in a heavily urbanized suburb of Washington DC. This one – apparently using earphones – simply chose for what- ever reason to pop out into the empty road next to my moving car, it would seem almost deliberately targeting my right side blind spot shortly after I had just made a legal left turn at a green light. I wasn’t even sure the pedestrian noticed me at all until I saw them, by then receding in my rearview mirror. These figures of mass carnage, as have

been the ones that preceded them for gen- erations, are eminently tragic – but now, imminently preventable through Advanced

Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). As many reading these words likely already know, essentially ADAS is technology that is able to sense, detect, even predict to address a haz- ard and either warn the driver or intervene directly to prevent an accident. The main premise behind ADAS is that it is not subject to distraction or fatigue, and has the ability to identify hazards that no human driver could such as a pedestrian moving behind a parked vehicle and about to step into the street. As defined recently by the Society of Auto-

motive Engineers (SAE) there are now six ADAS Levels with zero (0) being a ‘traditional’ vehicle solely monitored and controlled by a human driver while Level 5 represents a fully self-driving car. Levels 1-5 thereby are achieved through an incrementally higher combination of autonomy – the vehicle’s independent internal ability to sense, ana- lyze predict and react through its own sen- sors much as a human driver would – and connectivity with other vehicles, roadside or back office systems (including the cloud) and its overall environment to obtain both comprehensive and closely tailored data and information related to hazards, congestion, weather, etc. The SAE standard is generally accepted as succeeding the other ratings sys- tems (e.g., that released in 2013 by NHTSA) as the global standard. Safety, as significant as it is, is by no means

the sole impetus for transformation given the exponentially increasing potential to

“Safety is by no means the sole impetus for transformation given the exponentially increasing potential to monetize data through the Internet of Things”

monetize data through the Internet of Things (IoT). A study released at the start of the year by KPMG research, which polled nearly 1,000 executives with the world’s leading automo- tive companies, found that 76 per cent say one connected car generates more revenue streams than 10 conventional cars. In fact, expectations for data-driven revenue are so great that 71 per cent say measuring OEM market share based on units sold is outdated. Even as the OEMs discover value, investment in new automotive technology startups con- tinues to surge forward as well. By any means accomplished this is emi-

nently achievable and indeed there is already tremendous support for new technology short of a fully driverless car across all demo- graphics as shown by two major studies earlier this year. While younger people not surprisingly have a much higher degree of confidence in a completely self-driving vehi- cle per se as JD Power reports, Auto Con- nected Car almost concurrently found that drivers over 50 were very interested in ADAS in their next vehicle purchase to offset the physical infirmities of ageing (something I appreciate myself, having turned 50 in May, as I pause here for a moment to clean my read- ing glasses). Even as younger generations nat- urally gravitate towards the fully autonomous


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