Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.
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27 unmanned systems inside June/July 2016 ENGINEERING. PRACTICE. POLICY. BY THE NUMBERS More than 37,000 people in the United States die in road crashes each year About 2.35 million are injured or disabled Crashes cost the U.S. $ 230.6 billion per year, an average of $820 per person. Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel associated with making the upgrades. To help, in January President Barack Obama proposed to invest nearly $4 billion over 10 years, which would fund pilot programs to test connected ve- hicle systems in designated corridors. First Steps Over the last few months, DOT has been devel- oping deployment guidelines that outline exactly what needs to happen before automated technol- ogy, including fully driverless cars, can operate on the roadways, National Highway Traffic Safe- ty Administration Communications Director Bryan Thomas said. They're also working with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Ad- ministrators to develop a unified national frame- work for fully autonomous vehicle guidelines. "The maturing of driverless cars and the infrastructure need to occur in parallel. A big question we face all the time is when will these vehicles be ready," Thomas said. "How do you know when they're safe enough to deploy, and how do you measure that safety? The other part is the technology is developing so quickly. We're making sure the policy we develop is nimble so we can adjust over time. Our goal is to get the life-saving value driverless cars bring to the street and ensure we're not introducing any new safety concerns." To do that, the major players in this evolving industry need to think about vehicle-to-vehicle communication, vehicle to infrastructure com- munication and the necessary infrastructure upgrades as these systems evolve, as well as a host of other challenges that must be overcome before full autonomy is a reality. Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication The ability for vehicles to communicate with each other is vital to safely integrating driverless cars into roadways and highways. If vehicles can communicate, they can help each other avoid collisions, or even send out warnings about dan- gerous road conditions, said Greg Scharer, COO of Perrone Robotics. "Particularly in crowded areas with a lot of vehicles, we need to increase the capacity of bandwidth on which vehicles communicate with each other," Scharer said. "The sensors collect many megabytes of data every minute. If one car goes over slick pavement, that infor- mation could be transmitted to a near neigh- bor immediately and then a larger system of near traffic control. All vehicles heading that way have the information in real time." Through features like cruise control, automatic braking and automatic lane change, many of to- day's cars already rely on information from other vehicles, said Tom Kurfess, a mechanical engi- neering professor at Georgia Tech and a member of The American Society of Mechanical Engi- neers. In those cases, sensors tell vehicles how far they are from the cars directly around them. But vehicles will need to share information directly when driverless cars are on the roads, telling each other what's happening as far as 10 cars ahead, Kurfess said. Once this kind of messaging is in place, if a truck slams on its brake two cars in front of you, your car will re- ceive that information as it's happening. This is one of the ways driverless cars can help reduce the number of car accidents and fatalities. "The cars could basically be passing out in- formation," Kurfess said. "The car in front of me slows down, I pass that to the car behind me and then that information gets passed on to three to four cars after me. All of a sudden we have a warning of what's going on down the road. So often someone slams on their brakes, the car be- hind them slams on their brakes and then two or three cars behind them, there's an accident." Not only will these cars need to commu- nicate, that communication will also need to be accurate. Adopting autonomous standards will help ensure communication between vehi- cles is clear, Scharer said. If common messag- ing structures are implemented, it will allow these cars to consistently report what they're seeing to other vehicles as well as to the traffic control system—a capability that will become