Industry experts talk about autonomous vehicles at Toledo seminar

By  | 

TOLEDO (WTVG) - Self-driving or autonomous vehicles are something we'll all be able to drive in the near future. Research shows a lot of people think they'll make the roads safer, but many also say they don't want to own one.

Technology Takes the Wheel is a series of seminars aimed at teaching people about the new technology. It's a partnership between The University of Toledo College of Engineering and AAA of Northwest Ohio.

Tens of thousands of people are killed on American roads every year.
Researchers and engineers are among those working to one day get that number to zero. Some say autonomous vehicles can be a big part of the solution.

Autonomous vehicles will be a common sight on American roads in the not-so distant future. Dr. Mike Toole is the Dean of the UT College of Engineering,"This is an important topic that involves lots of things affecting our society and our economy. We wanted to be part of bringing people together to study the topic."

Education and safety are the focus of these seminars. Edgar Avila is the Executive Vice President of AAA Northwest Ohio, "We want to be at the table working with everyone making sure that when the time comes for autonomous vehicles to hit the road it's done in a safe and thoughtful manner. We want to be prepared and make sure he right people are making the right decisions.We also want to make sure the right investments are being made in transportation infrastructure."

Emily Frascaroli is Managing Counsel of the Product Litigation Group at Ford, "Ohio and Michigan have both taken a leadership position in trying to advance this technology and to make sure we have the right rules and regulations in place."

But Frascaroli says regulatory framework does present potential barriers to the deployment of this new technology, "We're working collaboratively with others in the industry like insurance companies and government regulators at the state and federal levels. We are trying to come up with solutions so we can get this technology out there as soon as we can in a safe way."

Dr. Tina Sayer is a Principal Engineer for Toyota. She says while new technology often makes people nervous, exposure to the technology and knowledge will help change that, "People have to use this technology in the right place at the right time as often as possible. That's how we''ll decrease the number of crashes and increase the number of lives saved. Humans are good at some things and machines are good at some things. We need to get those two together and that becomes the solution."

Technology Takes the Wheel has been so successful that other colleges and universities around the country are implementing similar programs. Other AAA clubs around Ohio are also working on seminars in cities like Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.