Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Is The Answer Technology?

Will emergency vehicles, regular traffic, cyclists, and peds all be connected wireless someday?
In my series on the gravel scene posted last week, (and which can be accessed now on its own page link under the header here), I mentioned how that paved road riding by cyclists and distracted driving were things not likely to get sorted anytime soon. Well, the Consumer Electronics Show, (CES) is happening now and developments are being shared which point to a possible future where all road users might be connected wirelessly. In one story we can learn about how radio connectivity between emergency and mass transit is going to sync with traffic lights. This is something that is happening in many cities but this story is about Madison, Wisconsin's efforts to test a system which will allow traffic lights to sync with ambulance/fire/police vehicles and also allow busses to stay on schedule, as examples.

Another example is Trek who is working with a company called Tome and also with Ford Motor Company to start down the path of putting technology to work in vehicles and on bicycles so that cars, in the future probably autonomous/driverless cars, will be made "aware of" the presence of cyclists, and probably at some point, pedestrians.

You may have heard about how driverless cars are having issues "detecting" the movements of more random road users like cyclists and peds. Well, if each ped and cyclist has a "beacon" which signals these autonomous vehicles, the theory is that the vehicles could better recognize when and how to avoid these more mobile urban users. You can check out that story here. This sounds plausible, but wait! There is a possible downside here:

Maybe this is more "number of the beast" than "future urban utopia"? From a recent Twitter thread.
Obviously not everyone will be wanting to, or will buy into this, but one could imagine a scenario where insurance and licensing gets tied into a system like this making it virtually impossible to get around without becoming a part of the plan.

Also, this stuff, according to the stories I've seen, is at least a couple of decades off, but Trek states it is pressing for "in the field studies now". It's also worth noting that the Madison experiment is set to go off this year, with results garnered from the trial test soon as well. Given that Trek is based nearby in Waterloo, Wisconsin, it is reasonable to assume they will also be watching that study closely. Trek promises to publish the results of their findings when they are available.

So, what does it all mean? Likely that technologies to use AI and other user interfaces on autos and bicycles will be trialed and tested in urban areas in the very near future. How this will look in the future, I don't think anyone quite understands just yet. I would be interested to know how much of our liberties in freedom of movement would have to be ceded over to make this all functional. Hopefully that would be considered in any solutions chosen and implemented.

At any rate, it all bears watching, and at least in metropolitan areas, it looks as if some sort of wireless communication between all urban transportation users/vehicles is set to happen at some point.


Phillip Cowan said...

If the bikers and the pedestrians were wearing passive RFID tags it might be OK with me. What I wouldn't want is yet another source of EMF exposure to my person. Nowadays everything is connected. There's cell phones,wireless routers,smart TVs,smart meters even your new refrigerator for gods sake. Were being gently microwaved to death. The health problems from this are only just starting to come to light.

Ari said...

I can’t help but think 1984.
More reason to dissapear out in the country, away from all this craziness.

hank said...

Anything "Big Bortherish" about insisting that folks "Tag" themselves so that, perhaps, their movements can be tracked? As in, if involved in an accident ,where
they were before the accident. A bar, the library, the motel with the other person's significant other??? Lots of possibilities.

Skidmark said...

When your ten-year-old starts “driving” his compu -control module he can explain to you how it all works.

Rydn9ers said...

It's crazy to see cyclists lobbying against a system that could keep them from getting killed because some imaginary entity is going to use it to "watch them". If someone wants to follow me around all day with a clip board and laptop I'm all for it if it means I get to go home at the end of every ride because someone didn't run me down and leave me in a ditch. Nobody cares what you do ever day, you just aren't that important or exciting.

Steve Fuller said...

I've had a racking devices or a microphone on me for hours at a time over the past several years. I can honestly say that even though I was in those situations by choice, I was aware of the fact those items were on me and either tracking or recording my position. Personally, I don't like constantly second guessing my actions due to the use of such a device.

IMO, the best place for automated or driverless vehicles to be used would be for long trips on freeways. The traffic is (somewhat) more predictable and the various modes of transportation are going the same direction and at the same speed. A high speed (100 MPH) lane for cross country trips would be interesting from a movement of goods and long trip standpoint. You would still need to have controls and a driver for when you moved into an urban area. This is my understand of what happens with commercial airliners on long flights now. Pilots for take offs and landings, but autopilot for much of the trip.