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Eliminating driver error with new technology

Prior to the recent ITS (Intelligent Transportation Society) World Congress conference in Detroit, where a number of carmakers show off their new safety technology, Toyota announced that it will not be developing a driverless car in the foreseeable future. As reported by the Associated Press, Toyota will instead continue to develop collision-prevention technologies that aim to relieve drivers of some of the more technical aspects of driving, thereby allowing drivers to focus on decisions they make while driving, and better anticipate those of the drivers around them. Toyota’s announcement marks a notable departure from Google and other car makers that are currently developing driverless cars.

The collision-prevention technology that Toyota will be implementing as standard across its entire vehicle lineup in the U.S. by 2017, however, are already available in some luxury vehicles. Among the features that will be made standard are those that will keep a vehicle in the center of a lane, monitor the driver to ensure their eyes are on the road and hands are on the wheel, and incorporate radar technologies to help control a driver’s speed in traffic. By making these features standard, Toyota will ostensibly improve vehicle safety on U.S. roadways.

This announcement comes shortly after a report by the MIT Technology Review that anticipates a few of the significant technological challenges that the developers of Google’s driverless car must grapple with. Aside from being untested in severe weather conditions, the report claims that Google’s driverless car likely would not be capable of driving on 99% of the roadways in the U.S., largely due to limitations in the mapping software that the vehicles rely on.

Although it may perhaps be safest to completely eliminate human control of cars and trucks, the prospect remains firmly on the horizon. Until then, the advances made in collision-prevention technology by companies like Toyota are sure to dramatically reduce car accidents that result from driver error.

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