Friday, March 8, 2013

Volvo invents fix for Single Witness Suicide Swerve

From the BBC, courtesy of my friend Clay Davis.

"Volvo has announced it is releasing a cyclist detection facility which should prevent fatal accidents. The auto firm says vehicles fitted with the system will be able to detect threats including a cyclist suddenly swerving out into a car's path**..."

As I recall, the "single witness suicide swerve**" is one of the most common crash types listed by motorists looking for excuses as to why they hit a cyclist riding in a straight line minding his or her own business. Well, never mind. Rather than start my own rant, here is what my favorite bicycling editorialist, Patrick O'Grady, had to say in a Maddog Unleashed column published in the Bicycle Retailer and Industry News:

"...Someone using one of the smartest ideas to emerge from the 2010 International  Consumer Electronics Show could soon be run over by someone using one of the  dumbest. It seems Darwin was wrong after all. ..New dashboards from automakers like Audi and Ford, in partnership with technology companies like Nvidia and Harman, will include features common to the desktop PC, such as wireless Internet, large touch screens and high-definition video. Some observers, among them Michael Rayfield of Nvidia, which will be working with Audi, were waxing their digital boards and bellowing “Cowabunga!” “Cars are going to become probably the most immersive consumer electronics device we have,” Rayfield told The Times . “In 2010, you will sit in these things, and it will be a totally different experience.” Others were less effusive. Nicholas A. Ashford, a professor of technology and policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, called this bid to take distracted driving to a whole new level “irresponsible at best and pernicious at worst.... You know how you can be in two places at once and not anywhere at all? By cycling down the shoulder of the ol’ Antelope Freeway a few hundred meters ahead of some ADHD teenager who just spilled his beer while trying to simultaneously surf for porn, check his e-mail and text his girlfriend from behind the wheel of his daddy’s brand-new Audi."


Anonymous said...

Thia is good! Now drivers can spend more time doing the important things like texting instead of wasting mental energy assessing what's in front of their cars.

Ian Brett Cooper said...

I think stuff like this is great. These days, with cellphone use at pandemic levels, and in the absence of effective driver's education or competent law enforcement, I'm much more willing to trust a computer with my life than most of the drivers I see on the roads today.

Khal said...

While I agree with Ian, my concern is with the comment made by Anon.

Steve O said...

Interesting ... so, it can detect a swerving cyclist. And then what? Pulls a commander override and swerve the vehicle left, into oncoming traffic? Slam on the brakes, so you're rear-ended? Deploy external airbags?

Seems that turning off the intertubes, canceling that last Facebook post, hanging up on Skype, and simply driving like they taught you in Driver's Ed (oh, wait, we've de-funded that) is a simply, cheaper, more elegant solution.

Anonymous said...

Oh... and when the driver hits a cyclist: "My cyclist sensor must have failed. I didn't get a warning."

A better idea: Mandatory endless loop video and data capture for all licensed motor vehicles to record proper or reckless behavior of the driver. That would probably somehow be a violation of driver rights.