Road to safety means harnessing the power of connectivity, collaboration

March 21, 2024

By Brock Aun
Vice President, Communications & Public Policy
HAAS Alert

Among the many transformations unfolding in the automotive space today, autonomous vehicles have unquestionably captured the most public attention and reporting. From the proliferation of advanced driver assistance technologies like GM’s Super Cruise and Tesla’s Autopilot, to the arrival of driverless robotaxis and autonomous shuttles like Waymo, Cruise, and Zoox, American roads are host to more automated technologies than ever before.

AVs offer a tantalizing array of potential benefits and opportunities, including improvements in transportation efficiency and expanded accessibility for underserved populations. This could theoretically lead to a safer future. But recently, a steady stream of news coverage has documented the challenges that robotaxis face as their deployments begin to scale.

From pedestrian collisions and challenges with emergency responders and incidents, these stories have raised serious concerns among road safety advocates. California alone has reported 690 autonomous vehicle collisions as of February 2024. While this is a far cry from the number of collisions involving human-operated vehicles, it raises the question — how safe is safe enough?

These incidents highlight the complexities of AV operations and the critical importance of seamless communication between vehicles and their surroundings, especially as it relates to the safety of vulnerable road users. Relying solely on onboard sensors, such as lidar and cameras, has proven insufficient in addressing these challenges. 

But what if autonomous vehicles could augment detection with connection?  

HAAS Alert’s new Responder-to-Autonomous Vehicle (R2AVTM) service heralds a transformative step towards safer roads for all.  R2AV is powered by Safety Cloud®, our cloud-based connected transportation platform, which serves as a direct conduit between emergency vehicles and other vehicles on the road. R2AV leverages this same real-time emergency vehicle and incident data to empower AVs with enhanced intelligence so they can navigate roadways safely alongside first responders. 

This enhancement of autonomous vehicles with V2X (vehicle-to-everything) technology parallels the same evolution in technology we’ve seen off the road. The powerful combination of computing and connectivity transformed nearly every element of human life in the 20th century, and that same transformation is now crossing over into automotive technology.  Boosting autonomous vehicle technology with real-time data on emergency vehicles and roadway incidents enables these vehicles to make decisions informed by more than what’s just within their line of sight. This reduces the likelihood of collisions and improves overall road safety. 

As AV technology evolves, ensuring roadway safety is paramount to fostering public trust and acceptance. Solutions like R2AV provide auto manufacturers with an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to safety while paving the way for widespread AV adoption. 

Connectivity will play a critical role in enhancing AVs to better navigate the hazards that vulnerable road users encounter every day. By harnessing the power of connectivity and collaboration, we can build a future where road safety is not just a goal but a reality for all.

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