These days, the sight of drivers with phones pressed to their ears is all too familiar. Unfortunately, though, the problems posed by such behavior are mounting. Some call it an epidemic, others say it's worse than drunken driving.
One solution to the dilemma would be to outlaw use of distracting technologies in the vehicle. But the question is, which technologies would you outlaw? Phones? Music players? Navigation systems?
In truth, consumers will have none of it. When the National Traffic Safety Board called for the "first-ever nationwide ban on portable electronic devices" earlier this year, the proposal was greeted with nationwide derision.
That's why automakers and suppliers are taking it upon themselves to improve the safety of devices that they're building and putting into vehicles.
Click on the photo below to see 14 examples of how car companies are studying the problem of driver distraction and how they propose to solve it.
The Ford Escape employs Integrated Blind Spot Mirrors to make it easier for users to see "blind spot drivers" while keeping their eyes on the road. (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
Many of the solutions are very distracting themsleves. HUDs are very cool but the driver is still looking at the display, not the car in front. It's likely that an accident will be mitigated but not avoided altogether.
Anecdotally, I spent yesterday media free--as I do during every majour election. No radio, no tv, etc. It was the best driving experience I've had in a long time. Instead of being isolated in my media box and separated from everyone around me, I paid attention. No near misses. I was never cut off. And, I avoided traffic jams and hazards like a ninja.
Paying attention is the best solution. It's interesting how we use technology to solve the problems that our mis-use of technology creates. Ford's approach (Driving Skills for Life) is definitely a good model.
Chuck, if we are going to allow all these personal devices to be used in cars then the only real solution will lie with technologies, including those you have in the slide show. Two of the most promising to me are haptics and HUD. The layout of insgtruments in cars is not very optimal. A study of aircraft and race cars may be useful in this regard.
Great slideshow, Chuck. I recently rode with my daughter's boyfriend to see my daughter's dance recital. He was driving a 2011 truck (can't remember what make). His entertainment system was run entirely by voice. He could announce a radio station or call for a specific song from a specific band from his digital music collection. He could also make a phone call initiated by voice. At all times he had both hands on the wheel and his eyes on the road. Very impressive, very safe.
I've got to agree with Nadine about distractions for drivers. It was a lot easier to focus on the road, the other drivers and various external moving objects like kids and dogs--or deer and pedestrians where I live--before all those beeping and flashing devices inhabited the car's interior. I basically don't have any in my car for that reason.
It's obvious, driverless cars is the only way to go. To truly remove the issues with distracted drivers, we must remove the drivers.
But in the meantime, I am liking the head-up display and voice recognition options. The only free HMI in voice in these cases. However, an intuitive interface is needed first. Otherwise, it's just another device to learn all the shortcuts on.
The "innovation" in the first slide has been around for a couple of decades, at least in the stick-on version. I'm surprised it's taken so long to integrate these blind spot mirrors into the side-view mirrors.
They say HUD cuts the time required to shift your eyesight from the road to the instrument panel by about 0.4 seconds, naperlou. If you're going 60 mph, that translates to about 35 feet. So, yes, I agree, HUD has value.
Advances in voice recognition are amazing, Rob. Ten years ago, VR systems only understood a few words from a very small menu. Now, they can run radios, entertainment systems, HVAC systems and mobile phones. They've come a long way.
Couldn't agree more with you. My car doesn't have a radio and I completely agree. Same when I ride my bike (either motorcycle or bicycle).
The other alternative I have is a bit unorthodox, but it would work; make the cars less safe! If you take out the safety devices from the car, people will think twice about being distracted because there is no cushion of safety. Too many people that I know are very flippant about driving because they are not worried of getting into an accident because chances are good that they will not get hurt in an accident and that insurance will pay for a new car. So the consequences are very minimal for bad driving.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.