The University of Toledo’s College of Engineering and AAA of Northwest Ohio have partnered to host a free educational lecture series on autonomous vehicles titled “Technology Takes the Wheel.”
The series begins Wednesday, Feb. 7 with a kick-off seminar from 3-5 p.m. in Nitschke Auditorium on UT’s Main Campus.
Lectures will be held bi-monthly and include topics such as cybersecurity, government regulation, infrastructure and accessibility.
Wednesday’s guest speakers include Dave Hobbs, field service training instructor for Delphi Products and Service Solutions in Troy, MI; John Nielsen, AAA managing director of automotive engineering and repair in Heathrow, FL; and Greg Bannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations for AAA.
University professors Eddie Chou, Ahmad Javaid and Jared Oluoch will participate in a panel discussion with the speakers.
After working in the automotive business for over 40 years, Hobbs thought nothing would surprise him, but the idea of self-driving cars snuck up on him.
“We’ve been researching and testing technology like this since the ‘80s, but I guess it’s time we really embrace the future,” he said.
Delphi Automotive will have an autonomous vehicle in the auditorium during the seminar, according to the press release.
With 37,000 annual car accident deaths per year, driver safety is the top priority in the development process, Chou said.
“What makes autonomous vehicles so beneficial is their safety,” he said. “Humans get distracted and make mistakes; machines don’t.”
He says this is due in part to the instant reaction times of the cars.
As with any new piece of technology, he says the cars will be more expensive to produce and purchase at first, but by increasing vehicle safety measures the hope is that this will decrease the amount of money spent on car accidents.
The economic output for car accidents in the U.S. is $250 billion a year, Chou said.
“That’s money the U.S. could use for education, industrial development and so much more,” he said.
Zeb Hites, a fourth-year civil engineer major and a commuter, said he has trouble staying awake on his long drives to and from school, so autonomous cars would be beneficial to him.
According to a 2018 study issued by AAA, 63 percent of Americans surveyed reported feeling afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle. This is a 15 percent decrease from the 2017 study, with millennials and men being the most trusting of self-driving vehicles.
However, another AAA study showed only 13 percent of U.S. drivers would feel safer sharing the road with self-driving vehicles, compared to the 46 percent that would feel less safe.
Acknowledging concerns, Oluoch cited continued safety tests to ensure precision and reaction times, preparing the vehicles for a smooth transition onto public roadways.