Welcome to my series on Smart Nation as I look into the future, based on my reading and understanding of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science.
Let us talk about the very first (or at least the second) thing that most people will think of when it comes to a Smart City. That is autonomous vehicle (AV). I am very sure AV is just a matter of time and it will be an essential accessory to a Smart City.
Despite the accidents caused by AV are constantly reported with negativity, I am actually very positive of it as an industry because as a fellow human, I feel we have several weaknesses that might dull our driving skills and that is vision and emotions.
With AV, I am pretty sure we can eliminate casualties of drunk driving or judgement lapse caused by moods/emotions. Based on the latest statistics from Wikipedia (article) traffic related death is estimated to be about 1.35M in the world, even a small 1% of it means 13,500 lives saved.
For AV to be adopted safely and effectively in Smart City, I think we need to build two layers of network.
First Layer: Sensors around Pedestrian Sidewalk
These first layer of sensors main objective is to inform the car on the NO-GO zones. It forms perhaps, a web of radio waves or lasers that marks up the boundaries for Pedestrian Sidewalk or either the road, depending on your perspectives.
The AV shall at any time cross the boundaries unless it has assessed that there are no pedestrians on the other side of the boundaries and it needs to avoid a collision.
This first layer can in addition provide a psychological safety net to people in the city that a car will cross into suddenly jumped into a pedestrian walk. Please do not think it is ridiculous, a quick Google Search on the news you will find headlines like these.
So building a network of sensors or lasers to communicate to AV on off-limits areas will help the car to navigate better and lessen accidents.
Having said that, the sensors on AV that detects moving objects like pedestrian and roads, please do not limit them, allow it to detect pass the boundaries as well. Because like any other tasks, more information is always better. Allowing the sensors in AV to go beyond the boundaries, will provide more data to AV designers to create safer AV through movement prediction.
The only possible challenge I felt with this network is that the boundaries can only be made up of straight lines rather which I cannot think of a scenario, how it can be dangerous. Will need some readers feedback on this for sure. :)
Second Layer: Communication Network between Cars
For the adoption of AV, we will have a transition period where we have both human drivers and AV together on the road. Regardless of the scenario, whether it is human only, human & AV, AV only, we will need a communication network and protocol that is secured, that allows the cars to talk to one another. This is needed to determine how close each of the cars is to each other and perhaps set a safety zone.
In the event that one car loses control, surrounding cars can be warned and perhaps coordinate together quickly to avoid collision with the control-lost car.
With the protocol and network establish, we can slowly bring in other "stakeholders" of the road like traffic lights, traffic police, commuters etc. This will allow better communications, reduce wait times for transport, faster commute etc.
The above I believe are the essential infrastructure for AV to thrive in cities first. With the 2 layers set up, albeit in phases of roll-out, we can enjoy the economic benefit and convenience of AV while managing its safety better.
What are you thoughts after reading this?
I will be writing up my thoughts on AV future and also other aspects of Smart City as I go about with my reading and research. Do look out for it. :)
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Happy 2022 to you! All the best to your life and career!