Another Techno-Fix For The Symptoms
There’s this from yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald :
The cyclist-friendly car
STEPHEN OTTLEY May 18, 2010 - 4:18PM
Subaru has developed a new system that can detect and avoid cyclists and pedestrians.
Subaru has developed new safety technology that can detect and avoid pedestrians, cyclists and other cars on the road.
Pedestrians and cyclists made up 240 of the 1474 deaths [16%] on Australian roads in the 12 months to March this year.
The Subaru system, called Eyesight, uses two stereo cameras mounted at the top of the windscreen to study the road, cars, bicycles and pedestrians to avoid collisions. The cameras also work in conjunction with Subaru’s adaptive cruise control, which can bring the car to a complete stop without the driver touching the brake pedal.
The two cameras are able to triangulate the exact distance of object larger than 1-metre and most road signs and markings. At speeds below 50km/h, the system will automatically apply the brakes to stop the car if an obstacle is detected. But at speeds more than 50km/h the system cannot compute fast enough and the car will not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.
OK - two things about this:
- Anyone heard of "risk compensation "? The more safety features, bells, knobs, whistles and doo-dahs we add to cars, the more risky the driving is to compensate for these. Add seatbelts? Drive faster! Make seatbelts mandatory? Drive faster! Add airbags? Drive faster! Add speedbumps & traffic calming? Drag-race between them! Add road-edge rumble-strips ? No need to pay attention to staying in the lane any more!
- It only works at speeds of less than 50km/h (about 30mph). I’d suggest that drivers who’re sticking to the speed limit in a built-up area are probably the ones who least need this sort of device. It’s the ones who think the speed limit is a minimum speed who would rely on it most in their risk-compensated driving, and in these circumstances, it doesn’t actually work!
So we end up putting a sticking plaster on the symptoms of bad driving - don’t expect any sudden reduction in the 240 deaths a year any time soon from this technology.