Why a self-driving car may save your life one day

Why a self-driving car may save your life one day

If you've been riding a motorcycle for any length of time, you almost certainly know someone who's been injured or killed by an inattentive motorist.

One in five times, we're killed when a driver turns left in front of us, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Each year roughly 1000 bikers are killed or seriously injured in accidents that are considered "driver error."  

Motorcycle riders account for a disproportionate number of fatalities, as revealed by one shocking statistic: While we account for less than 1 percent of vehicle miles traveled in the U.S., motorcyclists suffered 14.2 percent of all traffic deaths in 2015.

The future of robot drivers promises to drastically decrease or possibly eliminate those deaths completely.

In the beginning, self-driving cars will be able to spot the motorcyclist using sensors and cameras, either approaching or overtaking the vehicle.  Blind spots will be eliminated.  

A robot will never say, "Officer, I just didn't see the biker."  A robot isn't distracted by an incoming phone call or text.

A robot isn't updating their status on Facebook and not paying attention to the road. 

That's just the beginning.  As technology advances, vehicles and motorcycles will "communicate" with each other, and with other vehicles along its path. 

And, according to Karl Viktor Schaller, head of development at BMW Motorrad, that information will be used to build a "safety cage" around the motorcycle. 

So, when will all this technology create the motorcycle utopia on the highway? 

Mark Reuss, product development chief at General Motors Co., said new cars will be "mostly in charge" of driving by 2020 and fully in control by 2025. Tesla Motors Inc. Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk has a similar forecast — he thinks half of all cars made in 2022 or 2023 will be fully autonomous.

Keep in mind it will take another 20 years or so after this before older "dumb" cars are retired and off the road, and then there's the issue of "classic" cars, which will probably never be converted to self-driving.

But with robots in control of the driving, the odds for motorcyclists get better and better each year, and that's a future we can all look forward to.


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