The Swedish Embassy in Washington, DC, and Volvo played host to a discussion of the advantages of connected car safety technologies and the infrastructure development needs of an autonomous car future.
According to the release from Volvo, the panel discussion took place Thursday, Oct. 4.
Volvo Cars Research and Development Senior Vice President Peter Mertens said, “The Connected Car technology will be developed step by step in an evolutionary process so sensors will have to improve, connectivity has to be available, and cars need to be able to talk to each other as well as infrastructure.
“It is very important that we focus on the consumer and ensure he/she is at the centre of all of our activities, the Volvo way – Designed Around You. By doing this, we expect customers to rapidly embrace connected car solutions in the future.The Connected Car technology will be developed step by step in an evolutionary process so sensors will have to improve, connectivity has to be available, and cars need to be able to talk to each other as well as infrastructure.”
Mertens’ comments illustrate just how far we’ll have to go to build not just cars that can communicate with one another, but also roads and traffic control devices. It seems obvious to me the cars will come first. I say that because my hometown just completed a spur of state highway that, though less than two miles in length, took about four years to come to fruition — and that’s without installing any traffic control devices or sensors in the road that can communicate with cars using anything beyond an ol-fashoined traffic light. Compared to the complexities of installing sensors in the pavement and mounting new traffic control devices and their associated brains, installing road-ready autonomy equipment on cars will be a cakewalk.
With that being said, Mertens may be right that Volvo’s customers — perhaps even the driving public, in general — would accept connected car safety technologies rapidly. But that shouldn’t surprise anyone who has noted how quickly we as a society have warmed to things such as tablets, iPods, and the like. We’re a people who love technology. The question then becomes whether our government, the representatives of which already have a near-impossible time trying to agree just about anything, will be as eager to accept connected car safety technologies — and more immportantly, fund them — in our roads and highways.