Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Advanced Automatic Braking on All New Cars by 2029

Advanced automatic braking to be implemented on all new cars by 2029! Who could possibly object?

Me. It's a horrendous idea.

I once noted the fatal flaw of automatic driving (actually, I noted three of them; click through to read the other two):
Pedestrian Tyranny

The prime commandment of any self-driving algorithm must be: don't hit humans. This tops all other priorities.

As is, an uneasy truce exists between motorist and pedestrian right of way, and it has little to do with signage (if we locked up all the jay-walkers, there'd be no one left free). The only reason pedestrians ever let cars pass through an intersection is the prospect of getting hit. A driver could be drunk, inattentive, or psychopathic, so it's not worth the risk.

But if cars are constrained from running you over, you can step off the curb nearly any time, and all traffic will politely allow your passage. They will even opt to rear-end each other in order to accommodate you. In fact, all you need to do is wave your arm or umbrella into the roadway. Screech.....bam....walk.

The only alternatives I can think of (1. make jay walking a felony and position police at every intersection, or 2. make every citizen wear or implant an identifying chip and position sensors at every intersection)- seem impractical to say the least.
A delicately balanced driver/pedestrian standoff (either of whom might be inattentive/sleepy/drunk/homicidal/suicidal) ensures hesitation in the decision making of both sides. Pedestrians reigning supreme means driving would be largely unviable.

And now they've surgically carved out the most problematic chunk - which we'd otherwise have punted far into the future - and forcibly grafted it onto driver-driven cars. All of them. In five years. Bye-bye, standoff.

Permit me to coin a term for well-intentioned great-sounding initiatives destined to disrupt everything because they were not passed through a filter of common sense: Black Schwanz.

But on the other hand...

If we're painfully forced to develop other means of balancing driver/pedestrian game theory - finding new ways to inject hesitation into the system so traffic flow and driver safety don't become the plaything of every random shithead - we may find ourselves positioned to fully adopt autonomous driving earlier than expected.

So perhaps your 90 year old self will shuffle out to the SUV at bedtime, doze nine hours, and wake up directly in front of some incredible breakfast in Maine or cool museum in Washington or whatever. Smooth accessibility for those who need it most (and who'd otherwise be thwarted by the overhead of clearing airports and train stations, baggage shlepping, transit in/out of hotels, etc.) Maybe we'll get, after all, Jim’s Ultimate Old Age Fantasy (as detailed here).


Mr Taster said...

I migrated to New Zealand 2 years ago and discovered a new reality with regard to pedestrian safety.

Kiwis, who are generally very kind people, never stop for anyone unless they are at a designated crossing. This has nothing to do with kindness; its about following an established set of rules that everybody generally abides by. If you break the rule to kindly wave a pedestrian through, you enter an awkward interaction where they do not know what to do and it holds up traffic behind you.

Also, turning right (or left) on red is wildly unsafe for pedestrians; it doesn't exist over here (or in most other places in the world). Supposedly the practice came about during the gas crisis of the 70s because it supposedly saved gas.

Lastly, although there are plenty of Teslas, automated driving is still not legal here. I like that NZ is taking a wait and see approach to new tech. Let the rest of the world take the learning curve losses; we'll be ready to take it on when the algorithm has been adequately revised and vetted.

James Leff said...

Sounds like Kiwis have solved cultural problems and are waiting for the tech to be fixed!

None of this will work in downtown Brooklyn or London or Mexico City, however. Maybe the rest of us need to be Darwined out!

Mr Taster said...

Oh I hope not.

I, for one, would not like to live in a world with only Kiwi food. One can subsist only so long on meat pies, chicken and chips, V Energy drinks, and inferior knockoff brands like "Copper Kettle Chips".

Jim Leff said...

Wow, that's flagrant. Are you sure it's not licensed?

I was going to say, at least you have the common language. But Kiwi pronunciation might be thicker barrier to entry than Portuguese....

James Leff said...

THats just crazy. More like China circa 1978 than I’d imagine NZ. But what do you mean by “too late” (“by the time the American company decides to expand down under, they're too late”)? The NZ courts don’t recognize TM after some squatter’s period?

Mr Taster said...

From what I gather, trademark law is not universal. You have to secure the rights in different regions around the world. But I'm no trademark lawyer, so this is all conjecture on my end, though it seems to fit what I've observed living here.

The big difference between NZ and China is that China simply ignores trademark law, whereas in Aus/NZ these companies are operating lawfully under Aus/NZ trademark law.

And this is interesting... looks like Copper Kettle is rebranding, removing the swoopy copycat K. Maybe they received a cease and desist order? Very unlikely anyone will dig into this story here, or even know to ask the questions.

Further reading:

(you may need to use a New Zealand VPN to access this site... I don't blame them for blocking US IP addresses!)

Jim Leff said...

Just so long as NZ doesn't send military stuff to Russia, I can live with a low roiling degree of shocking lawlessness....

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