Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Icy Highway Madness
This week has seen some of the worst snow in the UK for 18 years. Many roads were in a treacherous condition. I had a necessary journey to make early one morning to an airport and home again before the main snow arrived. It was absolutely incredible how fast the odd driver was prepared to try and go on very patchy icy surfaces. I have written here before about the future of automated cars which will take much of the responsibility for driving away from human beings. On snowy and icy days like this week, such automation cannot come quick enough.
One of my cars has computer control of the throttle as well as steering (for automatic reversing). The traction and stability systems are able to judge much better than many drivers the exact optimum acceleration to apply to climb hills on a slippery surface, to make progress without wheelspin. We already have auto speed limiters on larger vehicles like lorries. It shouldn't be so difficult for the same sort of system to be applied to other vehicles when the road conditions demand it. In general I have reservations about giving up the pleasure of driving to technology, because I actually enjoy driving. However it may just be worth the sacrifice if the mad individuals who drive at wreckless speeds in poor road conditions are prevented from doing so by automated vehicles, reducing accidents, delays and injuries to themselves and others.