I personally like Anti Lock brakes, and traction control, which both somewhat fall under the category of "black boxes" taking control. I think the actuarial data on antilock brakes would prove that the average driver is better of with them than without. If you drive on snow and ice you come to befriend traction control if you use it. I feel much safer on ice with traction control and antilocks. I attempt to drive in a way that doesn't cause them to work, but I take comfort in the fact that when I push a little too hard, the electronics kick in and correct.
Allison makes automatic transmissions for trucks now, and I'm sure that most "skilled" drivers would bad mouth the automatic over the "control" that a clutch (supposedly) gives them. Allison does pull-offs with experienced drivers using manual transmissions, pulling against inexperienced drivers with automatic transmissions, and the experienced driver with a clutch never wins against the automatic.
I understand the reservations about the black box thing, but in time the technology usually proves itself worthwhile.
Another example is the "launch" electronics in formula cars. Drivers first resisted it, but relented when the guys using the launch control were driving up their tailpipes on every start.
As for enabling idiots to get behind the wheel, we already do that. So you might as well make the car smart enough to drive, because many of the people we give licences to aren't.
It is an interesting assertion that somehow cars are becoming safer because of all of those unreliable electronic systems being added. They are unreliable because the primary design target is minimum cost to produce them, all other considerations are secondary. Even worse, the systems all are set up to protect the very most unskilled and ill-prepared drivers, which means that they will be constantly fighting against the experienced drivers, who probably are at least half of all drivers. On top of that problem, none of the vehicle safety features that I have come across is able to handle exceptions. The ABS system assures excessive stopping distance on loose gravel and when there are leaves or sand blown onto the road surface, and the stability control system assures that a very quick swerve to avoid something will not be done the way the driver intends it to be done. They will probably protect a 17 year old beginner driver, and possibly the 90 year old grandmother, that is true. BUT most drivers are not in either one of those groups.
UNFORTUNATELY we are no longer allowed any choice about which systems we will have operating in our cars. So a whole lot of us will be fighting with systems designed soley to protect that portion of folks who perhaps should not be driving at all. Is this a benefit for society?
You know, there is a slippery slope on this topic. While there's no argument that electronics advancements have increased safety in vehicles over the years, (airbags & curtains, proximity sensors, back-up cameras and Bluetooth hands-free audio as a few examples) there are other electronic innovations that I simply just do not support; such as automatic braking in high end sedans currently. This type of "Safety" feature I think is more of a problem than a solution, lulling the distracted driver into a sense of security. And the Ford Focus that can parallel-park all by itself-? Fantastic technology, but it allows the incapable operator to climb behind the wheel. I can't support it.
Meanwhile, it was refreshing to see that the Delphi CTO had a short list of electronics advancement being developed that sounded more valuable to safety and performance than these two marketing gimmicks of auto-brake and auto-park.
Ghost in the Machine? Self realization of the machines?
I like the last line, "open up many doors and windows", does this imply that the car will 'sense' the owner and open the door. Open the windows as the occupant approaches drive-thru venues. Or is this just a play on words? Funny either way!
TJ McDermott, I agree. When it comes to vehicle safety, I like to be in control as to some software running on a black box. I believe one key to vehicle safety is to pay attention to the road while driving.
I wonder if they will also start to use artificial intelligent software that will start to learn different drivers and how they drive and where their weaknesses are. It's all very exciting. Good article.
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