Let’s face it, we've all grown up “knowing” that flying cars were going to be the next biggest thing coming in the future. We haven’t seen them yet, and that’s for a good reason. The current infrastructure of our roadways just can’t practically support a flying car; however, it is more than capable of supporting smarter and more efficient cars. As our population grows, more and more people own cars and sometimes people own more than one car. The problem being that as our population grows; our country stays the same size. Many, if not all concept designers involved in the future of car technology have an elegant solution to the overcrowding problem facing us today: Smaller cars.

Slow adoption...at first

Now, having a tiny car is going against the grain of our American egos, but we could be convinced to adopt the more future-forward and practical smaller vehicle if it could make our lives significantly easier and safer. Regardless of how big your ego is, you can’t argue against taking the option that will keep you and your family safe on the road. Car insurance companies may balk at first as well, but once they see the light, they will embrace a computer driven vehicle faster than the average driver could even dream.

NAME is turning heads

Here is a first look at an exciting vision of a future car that was making waves at the CeBit technology show in November. It’s called the NAME, and it’s based on technology that’s available today.

This video has been produced by DFKI, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence.

We see here a utilitarian view of the future of automotive transportation. It is a vision of a car that is as technologically advanced as it is realistic. The reality of driving today is that our cars are inefficient, large, and tough to maneuver in small spaces, all of which are problems that are solved by the NAME car and the many others like it in production today.

Here’s what the NAME can do:

  • Smart battery system that increases battery life and charging ability
  • Autonomous driving
  • Completely wireless autonomous traffic flow integration
  • Cars can lock together and form a single train-style driving pack 
  • Interlocking expansions for the car to add passengers or storage capacity
  • 90 degree tire wheel rotation that allows the car to travel side to side as well as backwards and forwards
  • Collapsible frame that allows for parking in very small spaces and garages
  • Wireless internet integration with advanced navigation technology
  • Software that reports traffic and road conditions anonymously to a main transportation hub

Self-driving cars reduce the possibility for human error

One would think that the idea of insuring a self-driving car would be a waking nightmare for insurance companies. The first question that comes to mind is that if the car is driving itself and there’s an accident, then who’s responsible? The artificial intelligence that drives the car wouldn't be able to take out an insurance policy or even pay the premiums so it would still depend on the customers. The intelligence software suites that will (and have been) powering self-driving cars are monumentally robust and, above all, safe. The word “safe” is music to an insurance company’s ears, especially if it means that more and more customers are going to be paying their premiums with fewer and fewer claims due to driver error.

Computers do it faster

As any parent of a teen driver can testify, we humans are not perfect when it comes to driving. The phrase “accidents happen” is so commonly used that it’s no surprise when we or someone we know has a collision behind the wheel. But, what if a super smart, self-driving car could eliminate almost ALL of the probability of an accident? Computers are far from perfect, but their reaction times are light years ahead of ours. If you need further proof, just look at the Jeopardy faceoff between Ken Jennings, Brad Rutter, and IBM’s Watson that aired back in 2011. Watson completely schooled its human competitors in terms of pure reaction time. Even when Jennings and Rutter were continuously pushing down on the signaling devices, they were still slower than Watson, whose signaling device was controlled by a robotic arm connected to the artificial intelligence.

Faster reaction time means safer driving

In terms of reaction time while driving a vehicle, the difference between a two second reaction time and a .01 second reaction time could mean the difference between life and death for thousands of people each year. Artificial intelligence models today are equipped to send signals to apply brakes and perform evasive driving manoeuvres at even fractions of the .01 second reaction time. That’s exponentially faster than any human could ever perform, which means that it has the possibility to be exponentially safer than any human operated vehicle. The great thing about car insurance companies is that they are practical. Not only are they practical but they are one of the world’s best collectors of safety data. Once they are able to run the numbers on computer-driven future tech cars, then adopting the concept will be a no-brainer for them. After all, why wouldn't they jump at the chance to avoid insuring another teen driver?

Edward Oberg is a former insurance consultant, a blogger and a happily married man. When he’s not writing about automobile insurance, he’s reading Steven King or playing with his dog, Sebastian.


bava mahe said...

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