New technology aims to make the streets of NYC safer for drivers, pedestrians and bikers. At a recent CB7 transportation committee meeting, members called on the city to implement this technology – from Israeli company Mobileye – in all regulated city and state vehicles.
For context, there are thousands of crashes on the UWS every year. Some result in injuries and others result in fatalities. There is now technology available which can change this.
Many people are already familiar with advanced driver assistance systems, such as the lane departure warning that will send an alert right away. This is considered a passive system alert. In contrast, the new technology is more active, and can stop a vehicle if it detects it is about to hit something.
According to Mobileye, using their single mounted camera in the windshield can provide a host of life saving technologies.
“From the outset, Mobileye’s philosophy has been that if a human can drive a car based on vision alone, so can a computer. Meaning, cameras are critical to allow an automated system to reach human-level perception/actuation: there is an abundant amount of information that only camera sensors with full 360 degree coverage can extract, making it the backbone of any automotive sensing suite,” the company states.
When humans drive, they work around other road users. They use cues on how things are moving and give-way or take-way based on their interpretations. These interpretations can be complex and are not easily replicable by technology. Mobileye has created an approach through algorithms trained through deep networks.
Over the last year, the company has been working on solutions to retrofit garbage trucks with sound detection in order to alert drivers if they were getting close to hitting something or someone.
There was concern by some of the board members that the noises caused by the technology could be distracting and annoying. There was also a sense that there could be false positives in the computer detections.
“When asking drivers if they found it useful, they came back [and said] that it was annoying to get false positives. I’d rather have 100 false positives, then one false negative. The system is getting better and we are making adjustments to the technology to make it stronger. Also, we need to be very careful how we define false positives. What the driver might think is a false positive is not meant to be a false positive for the system,” said the representative.
One problem is that despite new vehicles coming equipped with the technology, it will take many years to get all the vehicles on the road up to speed and reach critical mass. Retrofitting vehicles with the technology is the solution being presented, but the cost of retrofitting depends on the type of vehicle and system being implemented. There are thousands of vehicles equipped with this technology and the forward facing camera. The company boasts an 83% reduction in crashes based on the current outfitted vehicles.
There was discussion about Uber and Lyft adopting the technology, as well as the question of where the funding would come from to pay for the cameras. One speaker said that if they implemented the technology, insurance premiums could go down as one incentive.
“I feel like I want to jump out of my seat, I’m so excited. It’s such wonderful information to see technology being used for safety. When we consider how distracted drivers are with their phones, it has been so deadly. And the fact that now we’re using computers and other technology to save lives … I am absolutely delighted and so glad that you came here today,” said one board member.
Board members commented that to the extent the city has controls, they would love require the implementation of the technology on every taxi and bus.
“We call upon New York City and New York State to evaluate and consider mandating driver assistance, collision avoidance and warning technologies in all vehicles regulated by the city and state. Also, all companies that do business with the city and state,” said the board.
Featured images courtesy of U.S. Embassy Jerusalem