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UT, AAA to kick off series of free, public seminars on autonomous vehicles Feb. 7

As vehicles equipped with self-driving technologies are poised to become the future of transportation, The University of Toledo College of Engineering and AAA Northwest Ohio are teaming up to host a series of free, public talks to educate consumers about how smart cars will impact the world.

The first seminar in the bimonthly series to help drivers be informed, prepared and comfortable with the shift in mobility will be Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Lois and Norman Nitschke Auditorium. General Motors will have an autonomous vehicle on site.

Speakers will include Dave Hobbs, field service training instructor for Delphi Products and Service Solutions, and Greg Brannon, director of automotive engineering and industry relations for AAA. Both speakers will participate in a panel discussion featuring UT engineering researchers Dr. Eddie Chou, Dr. Ahmad Javaid and Dr. Jared Oluoch.

“The biggest impact of autonomous vehicles in the near future will be a significant reduction in the number of traffic crashes, therefore saving thousands of lives each year,” said Chou, professor of civil engineering and director of the Transportation Systems Research Laboratory at UT. “It will fundamentally change transportation mobility and how people travel.”

An autonomous vehicle will be on display for students to view inside the Nitschke Technology Commercialization Complex in the Brady Engineering Innovation Center from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m.

“Autonomous cars have the potential to reduce traffic congestion, provide infotainment services to road users, and reduce carbon emissions,” said Oluoch, UT assistant professor of computer science and engineering technology. “While this is a promising technology, it also is a double-edged sword. Security concerns and job losses are emerging as some of the primary challenges of autonomous-vehicle technology. This seminar series is the first among many to highlight the technology behind autonomous cars and the promise it holds for the future.”

Register for the free, public seminar online here.

The next event in the series will be Friday, April 13, and focus on the topic of autonomous vehicles and cybersecurity.

American drivers are beginning to embrace self-driving vehicles, with male and millennial drivers most accepting of the new automotive technology, according to a new study by AAA.

The annual survey reveals that 63 percent of U.S. drivers report feeling afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle, a decrease from 78 percent in early 2017. Millennial and male drivers are the most trusting of autonomous technologies, with only half of those drivers reporting they would be afraid to ride in a self-driving car.

“Americans are starting to feel more comfortable with the idea of self-driving vehicles,” Brannon said. “Compared to just a year ago, AAA found that 20 million more U.S. drivers would trust a self-driving vehicle to take them for a ride.”

The new survey results come as state officials take steps to move the conversation on autonomous vehicles forward in Ohio. The Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee began hearings on the development of the new technology last year.