Would you ride in a car with a brain?

4:30 p.m Thursday, Sept. 21, 2017 Politics

What makes a smart car so smart?

For starters, a computer “brain.” Artificial intelligence and machine learning allow smart cars to make decisions for drivers and are the key to development of the fully autonomous vehicles that experts say are the future of transportation.

It will likely be a few decades before fully autonomous cars are common on American roadways. But smart car technology is already being installed on new cars and in just a few years will no longer be limited to mostly higher-end models, experts say.

These Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) help drivers avoid crashes and take care of various tasks, sometimes without the driver having to do anything. 

Staff Writer
An autonomous Volvo semi-truck hauled an Ohio Department of Transportation brine tanker from Columbus to Bellefontaine in November. Otto, now part of UBER Advanced Technologies Group, worked with the state to test the company’s self-driving truck technology. The test was successful, with the driver using the truck’s auto pilot as it drove along Interstates 70 and 270 and U.S. 33. CONTRIBUTED

The systems use GPS, radar, cameras and other sensor technology to see danger more quickly than the human eye and react in time to stop an accident or to at least slow the vehicle enough to make a crash less serious.

Crash avoidance technologies are not new. Anti-lock brakes were introduced in passenger cars in the 1970s, traction control in the 1980s and electronic stability control in the 1990s, according to the National Safety Council.

RELATED: 5 things experts say about smart cars

The NSC advocates the mandatory or voluntary addition of additional safety technology in vehicles.

Some of that is already occurring. A federal mandate requires that rear view visibility systems be on all new cars by May 2018. And manufacturers reached an agreement with the federal government to make automatic emergency braking a standard feature by September 2022, according to the NSC.

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Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and chief executive of National Safety Council

“The top four reasons for crashes are caused by human behavior or choices: alcohol, speed, fatigue and distraction, giving ADAS systems and automated vehicles the potential to reduce preventable crashes and deaths in an unprecedented way,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and chief executive of the National Safety Council, in testimony on Sept. 13 to a U.S. Senate subcommittee considering autonomous car legislation.

The NSC website www.mycardoeswhat.org lists the ADAS now available on cars and trucks and how those technologies work. Among them are:

U.S. Rep. Robert Latta, R-Bowling Green, sponsored the SELF DRIVE Act, which unanimously passed in the House of Representatives earlier this month and is now being considered by the U.S. Senate.

Staff Writer
This Ford Fusion autonomous vehicle is being used to test smart car technology at Ohio State University’s Automated Driving Lab.

The goal of the bill is to encourage the safe testing, development and deployment of self-driving cars, according to a fact sheet released by his office.

“What we want to do is make sure that the best technology comes to the forefront and rises to the top,” Latta said.

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