I was encouraged by your article 'Chameleon car' (Feature
, 5 June). Personally I can't wait for the day when my intelligent car will drive me to work so that I can read the paper or catch up on some sleep.
So many of the proposed approaches seem to rely on ever more complex, expensive vision and radar systems built into the vehicle, and are still only effective at avoiding last-minute collisions.
The clear winner in the cost-effective safety stakes is surely going to be the blindlingly simple idea of inter-car communication. Just imagine if you could see the jam or accident up to five miles ahead without needing onboard the incredibly hardware-intensive Trafficmaster land-based system.
For example, a quick web search throws up ADHOC MAC, a 'protocol proposed within CarTALK200, a European research project with the purpose to design novel solutions for inter-vehicle communications'.
The beauty of this is that cars with such a system installed, probably in addition to sat-nav, can exchange position and speed information. A few statistics and you have live updating traffic information.
As an engineer and a motorcyclist, I am dismayed by some of the technological developments which allegedly make car driving safer. So it was with concern that I read in 'Chameleon Car' of the aims of the EU-sponsored AIDE programme.
Motorcyclists don't have an on-board mobile, CD player or sat-nav system. To check our location or route, or make a phone call, we must stop.
Modern cars, on the other hand, largely insulate drivers from the outside world. In my experience, the more detached from potential hazards drivers become the less attention they give to safely.
It seems irresponsible for engineers to spend taxpayers' money on finding ways for drivers to receive e-mails while on the road, or in developing systems that inhibit functions during a 'demanding driving situation'.
Perhaps our EU contributions would be better directed towards finding ways to remove these distractions altogether.
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