AI has the potential to end car crashes even before self-driving cars become a reality and go a long way in making our roads safe.
According to the World Health Organization, every year around 1.35 million people are killed in crashes on the world’s roads, and as many as 50 million others are seriously injured. As far as the US is concerned there has been a drastic rise in the number of fatalities during the pandemic and is the largest six-month spike according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The top reasons for these crashes are speeding, distraction, impaired driving, and not wearing a seatbelt.
Artificial Intelligence is broadly being used in enhancing driving safety via a cellphone app and monitoring the behavior behind the wheel and rewarding safe drivers. The connected vehicles will also be able to communicate with each other and with road infrastructure.
According to David Ward, president of the Global New Car Assessment Program, a nonprofit based in London, “In my view, there is too much hype around A.I., road safety, and self-driving vehicles — it is super inflated.” He further added, “the low-hanging fruit, and not on some far-off utopian promise.”
Currently in place is the intelligent speed assistance, or I.S.A. uses A.I. to manage a car’s speed via in-vehicle cameras and maps. By July the technology will be mandatory in all vehicles in the European Union, though the US is yet to catch up.
Acusensus, an artificial intelligence company in Australia that addresses road safety uses high-resolution imaging in conjunction with machine learning to identify dangerous driving behaviors that are often difficult to detect and enforce.
Mark Etzbach, the company’s vice president of sales for North America said this technology can save lives.
The technology is patent-pending and is reliable in all weather conditions or at high speeds, unlike humans. It can also record behavior inside the vehicle.
Alexander Jannink, the co-founder of Acusensus, developed the technology after a friend and fellow software engineer was killed while biking in 2013. Heads-Up, its primary product, was introduced in New South Wales in 2019 in Australia. The system captures images that are later screened by authorities for a likely offense.
In the next stage, Heads-Up Real-Time technology is being developed for the United States. Here data and images will be sent in real-time to officers in patrol cars and they can view them on their laptops.
According to Alexandre Santacreu, secretary-general of the European Metropolitan Transport Authorities in Paris, technology similar to Acusensus is being considered in Europe. The technology has a huge potential for use in preventing collisions across road networks.
He further explained it is important for governments to share data widely and make room for data marketplaces as it will be the best way to procure quality data.
Sweden introduced Vision Zero in the 1990s and is widely used across the globe to eliminate all road deaths and serious injuries by creating multiple layers of protection. This ensures if one fails the other will continue to provide a safety net.
Certainly from all information gathered it looks like we will be safe with AI taking care of us and ending car crashes in the future.