What are the worst things that happen to us directly? (i.e. not things that happen to our kids)
Death and extreme suffering of course. Unfortunately, one is inevitable — and the longer that is delayed the more likely the other. Don’t blame me, I didn’t make this world.
Then there’s accidentally killing someone with a car, most likely a cyclist or pedestrian. That’s got to be in the top 3, maybe top 1. Drive a lot and bad luck or bad judgment may have its way. It feels like something we want to avoid.
Historically we had to minimize driving and/or drive with care. Now though, there’s a third option. Cars are beginning to incorporate pedestrian-collision avoidance systems like Volvo’s Mobileye or Toyota’s Pre-Collision safety .
Forget electric or hybrid or mileage or CO2 emissions. What I want most is something to keep me from hurting unarmored people. Until we have fully autonomous cars these warning systems are my best option — especially when they work under low vision conditions like darkness, rain, snow and fog.
So when I buy our next vehicle in 3-5 years this technology will determine what I buy. Only then will I look at electric, hybrid and the rest. Maybe now you’re thinking the same thing — imagine how you’d feel in 2019 if you go without and do hurt or kill someone .
We will all have this choice to make in the next few years .
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 This ConsumerReports review mixes systems that protect drivers with things that protect pedestrians. One I care little about, the other I care a lot about. It’s hard for a car-centric culture to think about the unarmored.
 Government action would help greatly - another reason to vote Dem. So would insurance company discounts.
 Easy to imagine the advertising.
- Special needs - death by car and what we can do about it 9/2015
- What pedestrians and cyclists can do while we wait for the end of human drivers 6/2013
- Mobile phone and automotive GPS collision avoidance for pedestrians, bicyclists, tricyclists, skaters and pets 5/2009. Pedestrians carry smartphones…
- Hit and run homicide in Minneapolis and near future prevention 9/2008
I’ve been thinking more about what I want, which is detection of unarmored people (and animals), particularly in low visibility conditions. Assuming one can devise a system that can distinguish a bicycle from a fire bush in realtime at a useful distance the challenges are liability, user interface costs, and false positives. I think the liability barrier will require government action — in particular protection against suits for failure to warn. That probably requires a democrat for President (though Trump might do anything.)
The false positive problem rules out sound alerts; they’d become far too annoying. Who wants a warning of cyclist seen a half mile away? (Presumably the car would automatically report passing proximity violations to the authorities :-). We need a subtle but useful visual symbol. The obvious solution is a visible circle that appears on the windshield around the target; but that may require a costly windshield and expensive projection equipment. At the extreme the windshield is simply a display showing the results of enhanced vision systems — so night time appears like an overcast daytime view. That would be a hard sell.
I think one could go a long way, however, by simply placing a strip of lights around the perimeter of the windshield. Then a portion of the strip would light up to bracket targets (often multiple) above, below and to the side. That would be a subtle warning that would work for my needs.