The future for driverless cars is increasingly bright. Besides being eco-friendly, autonomous vehicles present enormous opportunities to reduce road-related injuries and death.
While vehicles have become increasingly smart and connected, our roadways have yet to catch up. A report from the Senate Committee on Transportation and Communication warns that our roads are not yet ready to support autonomous vehicles – yet.
Many municipalities have already started to make updates to their infrastructure in anticipation of driverless vehicles – starting with road signs. Technologies like 3M™ Diamond Grade™ DG³ Reflective Sheeting are helping to increase the luminance of road signs. The brighter the signs, the quicker they can be seen and interpreted, enabling faster decision-making on the road.
But being seen is just the beginning. The next step is for signs to be understood.
Signs that “speak” to driverless cars.
Soon, autonomous vehicles will surpass the human driver’s ability to recognize signs accurately and reliably – even in inclement weather.
At 3M, we are experimenting with Smart Code technology. To the human eye, signs made with this technology will look just like a traditional sign. But for autonomous vehicles, these signs will store information that is not in the vision-based spectrum. As a result, driverless vehicles will receive better data that can be used for advanced capabilities such as high speed automation, on-highway platooning, and being on autopilot.
Most importantly, these “smart” signs will enable better and safer decision-making on the road to improve road safety.
Expert tip: Prevent sign vandalism
The 3M™ Premium Protective Overlay Film Series 1160 can be used as a protective transparent overlay that can be simply cleaned to protect road signs from graffiti. More so, Smart Code technology is also expected to prevent spoofing of signage through digital security methods.
Transportation trends: what’s next.
With advances in technology, we’ll see further improvements in road signage and pavement markings. Durable, removable pavement lane markings will work with autonomous cars to detect lines, helping boost lane detection and safety in low-visibility conditions.
Ensuring the right infrastructure is in place for cars is step one, but we also need to make sure these elements are properly maintained for better visibility. Having initiatives at the provincial level such as the sign maintenance and replacement program can go a long way in helping our roads up-to-date.
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