Tesla Motors Inc. is reportedly working on a self-driving bus that would supposedly put drivers out of work and provide public transportation to the masses.
“We have an idea for something which is not exactly a bus but would solve the density problem for inner city situations,” said Tesla’s Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk explained at a recent transport conference in Norway. “Autonomous vehicles are key,” he said of the project, declining to disclose more. “I don’t want to talk too much about it. I have to be careful what I say.”
Are Self-Driving Buses the Future of Public Transport?
Musk says he’s committed to solving the high-density urban transportation dilemma. Autonomous vehicles, which could help reduce traffic congestion, may even be the key to reducing traffic crashes and saving lives.
Interestingly, Musk is not the only heavy-hitter working on developing a self-driving bus. Billionaire Warren Buffett is also reportedly working on a prototype for an electric, self-driving bus that he intends to roll out in some Northwest cities.
Technology’s Real Potential in Self-Driving Buses and Trucks
The following list details of some of the autonomous vehicles that are currently being developed – and that the driving public may soon be able to experience:
- Mercedes-Benz Actros big-rig fitted with a Daimler “highway pilot” operating system made a 15-mile trip from Denkendorf to Stuttgart, Germany following Highway A8, which stayed in its lane and maintained a safe speed and distance from regular traffic.
- China manufacturer Yutong announced that it has created an autonomous bus that managed to traverse through 26 traffic lights, as well as make several lane changes and pass one other vehicle, over the course of a 20-mile journey between Zhengzhou and Kaifeng.
- Technologies believed to be used in autonomous vehicles include lasers, radar, and camera systems on every side of the vehicle.
- Google’s vehicles are said to have logged up to 1 million hours of public road time.
- Google’s autonomous technology is said to be so complex that it can even understand hand signals from cyclists.
- Audi’s A7 prototype drove 500 miles without any manual input from humans.
- By 2017, Sweden is expected to have nearly 100 autonomous vehicles driving on the roads (in “test” mode) to evaluate how well they perform in traffic (when sharing the roads with human drivers).
Autonomous Vehicles: How They May Save Lives
There are three main benefits that safety officials (and carmakers) hope to realize from the roll out of autonomous vehicles:
- Saving time (with reduced traffic)
- Saving money (with fewer crashes, etc.)
- Saving lives (via preventing fatal wrecks).
Taking the following statistics into consideration may reveal just how autonomous vehicles could make this happen:
- In 2013, there were 280 buses involved in deadly accidents, with these crashes causing 310 deaths.
- Nearly 4,000 people die each year in collisions involving trucks.
- According to a study released in 2009, 71 percent of large truck crashes involved some kind of distracted driving.
- Autonomous vehicles can prevent distracted driving practices (and wrecks), as these vehicles won’t be operated by a driver who is texting, smoking, talking on the phone or otherwise not paying attention to the road.
- Autonomous vehicles will not get fatigued, agitated or aggravated to the point of road rage. They also won’t operate underr the influence of alcohol.
Contact a Littleton Car Accident Lawyer at Bahr, Kreidle & Flicker
If you have been injured in any type of car accident, contact a trusted Littleton car accident lawyer at Bahr, Kreidle & Flicker by calling (303) 794-7422 or by emailing us using the contact form on this page.