Written by Laurel Thomas, Michigan News
ANN ARBOR—The race is on to get self-driving cars on the road, with Waymo, BMW and Volkswagen recently announcing plans to further invest and experiment with autonomous vehicle technology.
Along with these headlines, however, are many unresolved considerations surrounding the technological, legal, societal and equitable implications of this potentially revolutionary advancement in mobility and transportation.
“We need to make progress on all of these fronts in order for the technology to change society, just as the internet and smartphones have totally changed our society,” said Huei Peng, director of Mcity at the University of Michigan.
With its unique Mcity research center and proving ground for testing connected and automated vehicles, U-M will offer an online teach-out Feb. 4-28 for those interested in learning more about these cars of the near future.
“The question about connected and driverless vehicles is always why and why now?” said Peng, the Roger L. McCarthy Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
He said the ‘why’ is easy: driverless cars are safer than those driven by humans. Statistics from the Association for Safe International Road Travel show about 37,000 people in the United States are killed annually in motor vehicle crashes, with 1.3 million deaths worldwide per year.
Why now? The technology to support different levels of automated technology is better and getting more affordable, Peng said.
In this teach-out, participants will hear leading experts in technology, law, accessibility and equity, and societal change address:
- What is a self-driving car? What is an automated or driverless vehicle?
- What are the major legal questions?
- What can we do to prepare?
- How do we build trust in this new technology?
- How are we testing this technology and when can we expect to see it on the roads?
- How is this going to change our modern society?
- How are people thinking about accessibility and equity?
Developed by the U-M Office of Academic Innovation, this online learning event is free to the public and delivered on Coursera, an online learning platform. Faculty involved are from engineering, public policy, law, political science, sociology and information. Expert contributors include members of the leadership team at Mcity, including Peng, and others from the U-M Office of Technology Transfer and industry.
Teach-outs are short, self-paced online learning events that allow people across the world to engage with experts on various topics of national and international interest. They are modeled after the teach-ins of the 1960s, started at U-M, which physically brought people to campus for an intensive educational experience.