Technology is creeping into every aspect of our lives, and – while there are always those who are cautious about embracing the new and progressive – it is, for the large part, a beneficial factor in our lives. Technology is responsible for medical breakthroughs, for almost instant global communication and so much more, from improved entertainment to effortless financial management. Furthermore, technology is about to hit the road to make our commutes so much safer. There are, broadly speaking, two main lines of technology that will transform the way we get from place to place.
There has been much fear-mongering in the press about autonomous vehicles and it is true that there have been some teething troubles which have had lethal consequences. However, once all the programming issues are ironed out, the advantages of a self-driving vehicle are many and undeniable. Able to make hundreds, if not thousands, of computations in a second, a self-driving vehicle can react so much quicker than a human could in the event of an accident or untoward incident occurring on the road. Self-driving cars are also driven without emotion: computers do not worry if they are late, they are not under stress because a child is unhappy at school, and they are not prone to instances of road rage.
A further advantage of self-driving cars, once they are perfected, is that they can be in constant communication with smart roads, as smart road technology is unrolled and implemented. Which leads us neatly on to:
The term ‘smart road’ is something of a misnomer. Usually, when ‘smart’ is used as a prefix, it implies that the item itself has technology incorporated: smartphones are the most obvious example of this. In the case of smart roads, the road does not have technology embedded into it (although this may change in the future with roads implanted with heat and pressure sensors and other devices to monitor and maintain the integrity of the surface). Rather, the prefix ‘smart’ refers to the technology and communication used to monitor driving conditions: predominantly from cameras mounted over the road to alert drivers including passengers to accidents, severe weather or natural disasters.
With the advent of technology into almost every part of life, it will not be long before smart roads and ultra-safe driving are as accepted and welcome in our lives as satellite television and smartphones.