What The Wide Open (Driverless) Road Could Look Like

As autonomous cars slowly move closer to reality, designers from different disciplines are looking at how they will change the rules of the road, as well as the road itself.

What's the Latest Development?

Despite the city of Los Angeles having recently synchronized all 4,400 of its traffic signals, a growing group of experts are already looking forward to a time when the signals are no longer necessary. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) predicts that by 2040 three out of every four cars on the road will be driverless. As a result, familiar markers of the road, such as lane divisions, signs, and speed limits, could change or even disappear. Intelligent cars operating on intelligent roads also "have the potential to smoothly synchronise traffic, eliminating gridlock and accidents forever."

What's the Big Idea?

Azim Eskandarian, director of the IEEE’s Center for Intelligent Systems Research, says that autonomous cars will be governed by information flow from both within and without. Already a consortium of manufacturers is working on a systems protocol that will allow cars to communicate with a central command center. With sensors that enable vehicles to sense their proximity to each other, "trains" of cars running closely together at very high speeds could become commonplace. Researchers are also looking into making the roads themselves continuous chargers for the electric cars that pass over them. Eskandarian says these changes could eventually become normal if -- and it's a big if -- people put faith into the technology. After all, he says, "We don’t need a pilot’s licence to ride on an aircraft."

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at BBC Future

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Dead – yes, dead – tardigrade found beneath Antarctica

A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.

(Goldstein Lab/Wkikpedia/Tigerspaws/Big Think)
Surprising Science
  • Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
  • The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
  • Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Keep reading Show less

If you want to spot a narcissist, look at the eyebrows

Bushier eyebrows are associated with higher levels of narcissism, according to new research.

Big Think illustration / Actor Peter Gallagher attends the 24th and final 'A Night at Sardi's' to benefit the Alzheimer's Association at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
  • Science has provided an excellent clue for identifying the narcissists among us.
  • Eyebrows are crucial to recognizing identities.
  • The study provides insight into how we process faces and our latent ability to detect toxic people.
Keep reading Show less

Why are women more religious than men? Because men are more willing to take risks.

It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.

Photo credit: Alina Strong on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
  • A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
  • The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
Keep reading Show less