To experience the challenges with cars at intersections first hand, our team has walked around campus and surrounding areas to access the challenges present. Some issues we noticed are drivers trying to speed up and make yellow lights, the dangers of right turning of red, the trouble with crossing a busy road as a pedestrian, and sharing the road with cars while on a bike. Other key factors we noticed at intersections are the importance of eye contact between other drivers and pedestrians when crossing streets in order to determine who has the right of way. From our walk around campus, we also observed that there are some busy intersections with no stop signs or light signals that could use this infrastructure in order to handle the traffic flow safely.
In terms of finding out information about the larger realm of self-driving cars, we have been talking to a few key people about their experiences in/with self driving cars, the code, and the current status of their development. This has primarily yielded more questions, as the scope of the project is so large and unfamiliar, and every potential new bit of information creates a new arena for us to question, discuss, and think about. More specifically, we have talked to an employee of Uber ATG, who has specific experience in the process and development of the Uber self driving cars in Pittsburgh. In addition to conversations, we have been reading and sharing articles with one another that discuss other academic and professional approaches to the issue of self driving cars and their relationship to people and the built environment.
In identifying our problem, we considered the restrictions given to us by National. One challenge we had was the fact that self-driving cars have not yet been implemented at a large-scale, so our problem likely wouldn’t be directly related to them. Therefore, we narrowed to look at intersections. We took a walking tour around several problematic intersections around Rice, noting particular elements of the designs that made them unsafe. We focused on pedestrian and biker safety relative to cars.