Sunday, 10 November 2013

How can you wave at a driver that isn't there?

You may have caught this story in the news that there are plans to operate driverless "pod" vehicles in the town of Milton Keynes from 2015.

In theory, this sounds great.  Computer-operated vehicles, that could be borrowed to get around town, should be more efficient, allow people chance to check emails (by which I mean check Facebook), and if they are anything like the ones Google are testing, should be safer too.  It's rare that accidents are caused by vehicular failure - far more often it's due, partially or wholly, to the person holding the steering wheel.

But it does throw up some concerns...

  • If you let one through, how does it wave to thank you?  Does it need a robotic arm fitting to salute you?
  • Will it be able to change its driving style so that it speeds up just enough to stop that BMW from pulling out in front of you, because its passenger has a nasty haircut?
  • We know that all computer software, from apps to operating systems, crashes from time to time.  Do you really want a Blue Screen of Death when doing 70 on the motorway?

And I don't think winding all the windows down and back up again will work either.

Plus we have to think about navigation - we all know how good sat-nav is.  That is to say that sat-nav, for about 90% of the time, is great, taking you straight to your destination.  But what about when you specify a location that perhaps is on a private road - will the car take you up to where the public highway ends, and then stop, bamboozled?  What about if you want to go to a shop that's relocated, but the cars database insists on taking you to its old locations?

PS I forgot that my last post was my 200th. So why not celebrate my 201st post instead?

PPS When setting my location for this post, Blogger came up with an error message.  Slightly ironic - if the software on my PC crashes when looking for "Hull, UK" I might not feel 100% comfortable trying it in a moving vehicle!

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