Driverless Vehicles on the Horizon
By Sarah Bahari
Posted on May 11, 2016, May 11, 2016
Driverless Vehicles

Mercedes-Benz conceptual autonomous vehicle.

Some day in the near future, your morning commute could look like this:

Open an app, call for a ride and hop in a self-driving car that shuttles you across town to your destination.

" Autonomous cars are coming," Drew Campbell, Senior Partner of Capitol-Insights, told Arlington city leaders this week. " The technology is here. This is not some futuristic thing."

Industry leaders predict autonomous cars, which accelerate, brake and steer by themselves, will be ready to hit the road by 2020. What does that mean for Arlington?

The city, along with others, will need to study traffic patterns, enforcement and parking needs, among other issues, said Campbell, a longtime legislative consultant and President of the New Car Dealers Association of Metropolitan Texas.

Numerous companies. including Google, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Nissan and General Motors. are developing driverless technologies. Already, many new vehicles come with collision avoidance systems that detect other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, and in some cases, animals.

Safety will be key, Campbell said. In 2014, car crashes killed more than 32,000 people in the United States.

" We can begin to knock that number down," Campbell said.

" Someday, my grandchildren will say, "They used to let you drive a car? Do you know how dangerous that is?" "

Today, the number of vehicles on the road has reached a record 253 million.

Most likely, traditional and autonomous vehicles will co-exist on roads for years to come, Campbell said. The technology"s rollout could launch in increments, with certain allowed speeds, conditions, applications or markets.

Councilwoman Sheri Capehart said city leaders are wise to begin considering this technology now.

" I can"t envision this, but I could not have envisioned an iPhone, either," Capehart said. " For kids who are in elementary school now, this will be no big deal."

Driverless technology will transform more than commutes, Campbell said. It has the potential to change the way we live.

" An autonomous car is never distracted by a phone call or M&Ms falling between the seats," he said. " Autonomous cars aren"t spilling hot coffee, texting or telling the kids to behave."

The Arlington City Council has identified " Put Technology To Work" as a priority. Technology touches all parts of the city life – our organization, residents and businesses.

It is also integral in achieving the City"s other four priorities, Investing in Our Economy, Supporting Quality Education, Enhancing Regional Mobility and Championing Great Neighborhoods.

Put Technology to Work
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