Kevin, you make a good point. One needs to understand the underlying science and mathematics of a systems to be able to use it effectively in situations where the software might have a problem (or when the senesors go out). It is also useful when transitioning from one system to another.
Manny years ago, when I was the CIO of a spacecraft plant, we decided we needed to purchase our own system for running engineering codes. Until then we had been using the mainframe that belonged to finance. That machine was great, by the way, and they had purchased a vector processing unit that greatly speeded up our engineering codes. The issue was purely financial and control. During this whole process (and finance made it a torturous process), the head of Engineering (a great guy with a PhD) asked, are we becoming too reliant on computers? One of the older managers from the mechanical engineering group (our biggest computer user) answered him. Before we started using FEM codes heavily we had 200 engineers in the stress group. We were working on two projects at a time. Now we have firve or six projects going with 25 engineers. Question answered.
I would hope that the engineers would know the physics and mathematics underlying the tools they use. The situation you mention is interesting becuase I could turn the argument on its head. I think it is likely that the custom software an engineer might write to compute a value would be more likely to have errors. The package software, while not perfect, has many users, who stress it heavily. It also has a number of people tasked with fixing errors and a quality control process that looks for problems. That is what you are paying for when you pay support fees.
What if you don't have or have never had a car with an automated parallel parking system?
The metaphor is somewhat broken as it's not really a capability everyone and their cars possess, but it can go along with the metaphor. You do without, and do it yourself. In an attempt to show how technology can fail, you assume our complete dependency on it. If the tools exist and are affordable you use it. But it's always important to know what's going on at the core. The layman might not know what a specialized tool is for, but the specialist using the tool has usually been taught what exactly it's doing. Don't most US states require a parallel parking procedure as component of a complete driving test?
Kevin, there is no doubt that parking is a big issue with most of the cities, especially with metropolitan cities. Multi-level parking is the only solution and in future it won't be sufficient to accommodate the traffic. In such a scenario, we won't be able to image even about parallel parking
Dayling, recently I had seen a YouTube video about automated parking. Driver can leave the vehicle at parking ground and the car will found out free parking space with the help of satellite. Finally the self driven mechanism will drive and park the vehicle at designated slot. I think such proto type is developed by GM
Maybe I am seriously behind the times here, but there are automated systems for parallel parking?? I have always done it myself...so I suppose I could easily take over if one of these systems failed. That said, my car is too old to have such a system...but I'd be fascinated to know more about them!
I believe that VW has run TV ads showing just such a system. And, it seems to me that I've read where there are several independent companies which provide this technology. I also believe I've seen a video from a German company which describes this action, and there's a company in FLA which also designs & builds these systems..... ROBOTIC PARKING SYSTEMS, or similar name. I don't recall exactly.
Naperlou: I believe you've identified a point which I've been railing on about for quite some time. IF a technologist is not steeped in the fundamentals, then to me it's like building a skyscraper on sand...... it won't last long. It seems that many of our institutions of higher learning have eschewed these fundamental concepts in order to present the "latest & greatest", much to the detriment of the ultimate goal. That's why I think colleges & universities would be better served in offering a course in Slide Rule operation, as opposed to a recent blog about Soldering Techniques.
I am amazed that many readers seem to discover this kind of system. It has been around in Europe for at least ten years and is very common, especially in compact and subcompact city cars. I own a Mercedes Class A of 2009 with this equipment and it works very well : it detects an empty space (right or left in one-way streets) while driving at less than 20 km/h and manages the steering for the parking; You just have to switch between D and R and brake according to the instructions. The system disconnects as soon as you touch the steering wheel (It is usually installed on cars with electrical power steering).
Accuracy is quite good and you end up parked along the curb with an offset of 6 inches +or- 1 inch...
It might be more important to consider if the "automated system" that parks your car had done so properly. Computer aided design tools are only useful if the user can recognise when they are being LIED to. Many times I'll run a Spice simulation and ponder why it did not give the expected result. Did I do something wrong, or did the program fail to get the answer I expected. Even if a user does not have the technical ability to do the task manually (hey, solder is my backup plan) they have to realize where the pitfalls lie. Too often this does not happen as users don't understand even basic principles, let alone rigorous analysis.
How about... What if your calculator couldn't do "long division"... or even "square roots"
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