2017-01-15 Sun

Clear Thinking

The newspapers, well, The Media, are overburdened with material regarding driverless vehicles.

The National post Saturday, January 14, 2017 ran “My Pal The Car” which continues down the wrong path.

The thrust is on making cars as smart as human drivers, but if you study the death toll on the roads and streets you will find that human drivers aren’t that good.

Computers and electro-mechanical technology is already better than humans, and has been for years. We have had fog-penetrating radar since before I was born.

We have had servo-mechanisms since before I was born.

We have had engine governors since before I was born.

We have had electronic-speed decision-making since before I was born.

Trying to make a car perform like or better than a human is a backward step.

If you doubt this, try this out the next time the two of you are in a car. Preferably on a quiet street: Whoever is the passenger has to issue instructions to the driver.

Typical instructions:

(1) Speed up by ten percent

(2) Slow down by ten percent

(3) Reduce your speed to zero over the next five seconds.

(4) Change direction by ten degrees to the right

(5) Change direction by ten degrees to the left

All directions given must be of the basic vehicle mechanisms. None of this higher-level nonsense such as “Drive me to Macy’s Store in Buffalo New York State”.

The task is to issue commands through the driver, but only those commands that control the car mechanics itself.

Next week: reversing into a parking space.