Driverless Cars for Construction
Driverless cars are coming, and coming soon. Analysts predict these vehicles will be available beginning in the year 2020. With this on the horizon, the construction industry may need to begin considering how these vehicles will impact business, especially as many workers are constantly driving. What’s more, the technology could also create a much safer working environment on highway construction projects.
These types of autonomous vehicles are already being demonstrated by Google and others, but the functionality will also soon be available in the cars available for purchase. Analyst firm ABI Research, www.abiresearch.com, Oyster Bay, N.Y., predicts the first driverless vehicle will appear in the beginning of the next decade and will grow to more than 10 million robotic vehicles shipping in 2032.
In line with the prediction, Nissan, www.nissanusa.com, Yokohama, Kanagawa, has announced it will be ready with autonomous drive functionality in multiple vehicles by the year 2020. The auto manufacturer has been doing intensive research with a number of universities for years, and work is already underway in Japan to build a proving ground to test the vehicles.
The company says the autonomous technology is an extension of its Safety Shield, which monitors risks around a vehicle, alerting drivers to take action, if needed.
Speaking to the trend of driverless cars, obstacles to adoption will be high costs and lack of legislation, but ABI Research says the safety, cost savings, and efficiency benefits could drive autonomous cars forward.
Certainly, the technologies could have a big impact on safety for the construction industry. Not only will it improve safety while workers are driving, but it could also provide heightened protection for highway construction workers.
Honda, www.honda.com, Minato, Tokyo, for example, is testing new driver-assistive systems that can help predict and avoid traffic accidents through sensing and communications technologies. Still experimental, the technologies hold the potential for reducing serious accidents.
V2P (vehicle-to-pedestrian) technology enables the car to communicate with a pedestrian’s DSRC (dedicated short range communications)-enabled smartphone to provide warnings to both the driver and the pedestrian if a potential collision is about to occur. Honda is also researching V2M (vehicle-to-motorcycle), V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle), and V2I (vehicle-to-infrastructure) systems.
How will this impact the construction industry? Certainly this smarter transportation—which includes the autonomous vehicles, but could also extend to other forms of transportation—is coming. The construction industry will need to determine how these vehicles play into an overall corporate strategy.