Professor: Autonomous technology can improve vehicle safety

Danae King | The Lima News John-David Yoder, professor at Ohio Northern University, speaks to the Lima Noon Optimist Club on Wednesday about “making cars safer by making them smarter.”

LIMA — Though many in the automotive world are excited at the prospect of self-driving or autonomous cars, the same technology those may use can also be used for safety.

John-David Yoder, professor and chair of Mechanical Engineering at Ohio Northern University, spoke to the Lima Noon Optimist Club on Wednesday about “Intelligent Vehicles: Making Cars Safer by Making Them Smarter.”

When it comes to fully autonomous vehicles, Yoder said “we’re not there yet and I would argue we’re not going to be there anytime soon.”

Though, the technology being developed for potentially autonomous vehicles can be used to make current vehicles safer, he said.

“Five years from now all your cars are going to have sensors in them,” he said, as well as radar, lasers and cameras. “The opportunity is enormous to make cars safer in terms of saving lives.”

About 1.2 million people are killed each year in car accidents around the world, Yoder said. In the U.S., about 40,000 to 50,000 people are killed a year, but more than a million are injured, he said.

The death toll is so high that the World Health Organization calls car accidents an “epidemic,” and they kill more people than AIDS or malaria, Yoder said.

He spent a year working at a research labratory in France, looking into ways to add sensors to cars to make them safer. He’s been working on vehicle intelligence research for about six years.

At the optimist meeting, he educated attendees on car safety and the possible solution to the number of crashes.

“I’m just trying to give them an overview of what’s going on in the area,” Yoder said. “I think in general it’s good for people to have an awareness of what’s going on because I think 10 years from now cars will look very different.”

He wanted people to leave realizing that “this is a huge opportunity to save lives,” he said.

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