The Fuse

SAFE Autonomy: Tokyo To Showcase AVs At Olympics; AVs Can Expedite Evacuations; And More

by Alex Adams | @alexjhadams | September 16, 2019

Tokyo Will Allow 100 AVs On Its Streets Ahead of 2020 Olympics

Designed to showcase Japan’s strength in the AV field, Toyota and Nissan will be taking part, as well as parts manufacturers and startups.

For one week next July ahead of the 2020 Olympics, Tokyo will let up to 100 AVs roam freely around the competition venues, ferrying up to 7,000 passengers. Designed to showcase Japan’s strength in the AV field, Toyota and Nissan will be taking part, as well as parts manufacturers and startups. The seven-day demonstration is part of a much wider testing program starting next month and lasting until 2022, during which a number of tests will be conducted on public roads in Tokyo involving cars from 28 companies. The pre-Olympic demonstration is not the first time a country has used a major sporting event to highlight its self-driving capabilities: The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang provided a platform for Korean companies to showcase their AV technologies.

Tesla Autopilot Found Partly To Blame For 2018 Los Angeles Crash
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found Tesla’s design of its Autopilot automated driver-assist system to be partly at fault for a crash in which an inobservant driver crashed into the back of a parked fire truck on a Los Angeles freeway last year. The NTSB also cited the driver’s failure to stop for the truck, which had its emergency lights on, during the January 22 collision, which caused no injuries. The driver’s actions were “due to inattention and overreliance on the vehicle’s advanced driver assistance system,” the NTSB stated. Tesla defended its system by arguing that real-world data shows that drivers using Autopilot remain safer than those driving without. However, independent studies have not substantiated these claims.

AVs Could Expedite Evacuations
While hurricane evacuations are intended to save lives, the sudden influx of motorists onto highways can quickly cause a variety of problems. More than 2 million Houston residents were trapped in gridlock for up to 20 hours when they tried to flee the city ahead of Hurricane Rita in 2005, leading to more than 100 deaths. Floridians were also mired in traffic when they tried to evacuate before Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, with 7 million caught in congestion. However, LSU professor Brian Wolshon, who has worked with local governments on evacuation planning, believes that AVs in theory “could move 20 times as much traffic in the same amount of time than if you had drivers.” Smarter vehicles could also identify less-congested routes and perhaps even direct people to available shelters or hotels.

ADD A COMMENT