Predicting “a bit of the wild west out there” as automated vehicles begin to share the road with human-driven vehicles, Greg Winfree, agency director of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), was the opening speaker of a Bloomberg Government symposium on transportation technologies, held in Washington, D.C., May 16.
The morning gathering examined the topic of infrastructure, related to future transportation technologies, as part of Bloomberg Government’s “Next.” series.
“There is going to be what I’ve been calling a mosh pit for the next 20 to 30 years where all these human-driven cars are trying to get along with all these self-driving cars in the same space,” Winfree told the group. “There is conflict at the outset with all this new technology that is coming out. It’s simple human behavior versus digitized behavior and how is that going to correspond? That’s why there is a need for these vehicles to have the ability of situational awareness of other vehicles in the vicinity.”
As part of the conflict between self- and human-driven vehicles, Winfree explained that people might react differently to various scenarios than do autonomous vehicles, which are programmed to follow the rules of the road. He emphasized the importance of perfecting connected vehicles before automated vehicles are deployed.
“There are vagaries and peculiarities in how humans operate vehicles. The need for these vehicles to have the ability to correspond with one another will be a critical aspect in improving the safety profile,” he said.
Winfree’s presentation included a TTI-produced video that highlighted the fact that 93 percent of all of the 5.5 million vehicle crashes in the United States in 2016 were caused by human error.
The Bloomberg Government symposium included speakers and panel participants from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Communications Commission, American Automobile Association and Uber.