Sit back and enjoy the ride, nothing can possibly go wrong, go wong, go wr…

Since NZ seems to thoughtlessly follow every trend out of the USA, I wonder how long it will be before we have legislation about autonomous vehicles?

The mere fact that Congress tortured the English language to come up with the “short” title to this new act as…

SHORT TITLE.—This Act may be cited as the ‘‘Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research In-Vehicle Evolution Act’’ or the ‘‘SELF DRIVE Act’’[…]

should make us resile in horror, without even considering the contents.

While this SELF-DRIVE Act appears to grant all manner of safety requirement exemptions, it does add a curious new rule.

[…] requiring all new passenger motor vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight to be equipped with an alarm system to alert the operator to check rear designated seating positions after the vehicle motor or engine is deactivated by the operator….

So, if you deactivate the motor and someone is still sitting in the rear seat, an alarm sounds.  This is excellent, as after you arrive at your romantic park-up location and turn the motor off, you would certainly want to be alerted if someone (say, your mother) was sitting in the back seat.

For the avoidance of doubt

[…] the term ‘rear designated seating position’ means any designated seating position that is rear-ward of the front seat.’’. [..]

I am glad they cleared that up!

And then it moves into the privacy provisions. Oh my, what fun lies ahead.

[…][The manufacturers must have] A written privacy plan with respect to the collection, use, sharing, and storage of information about vehicle owners or occupants collected by a highly automated vehicle, vehicle that performs partial driving automation, or automated driving system. Such policy shall include the following: (A) The practices of the manufacturer with respect to the way that information about vehicle owners or occupants is collected, used, shared, or stored […]

and so on and so forth.

When you drive; where you drive; who with; how fast you drove; what you listened to on the drive; what web pages you browsed, you don’t need to watch the road – remember; where you stopped on the way; and for how long; etc, etc is all to be stored – but don’t worry they will have a PLAN.  Hopefully somewhat better than one of Baldrick’s cunning plans – but probably not, given recent examples a data privacy breaches.

Data will no doubt be collected from cameras and microphones inside and outside the car (for your safety – of course) and, presumably, the vehicle will not start unless there is a connection to ‘mother-ship’ to relay all this data back.

But, having removed the steering wheel and brake pedals etc, what if something does go wrong?  After years of experience with computers, smartphones etc I am certain that there will never be a software glitch and that the system will never decide an important security update needs to be installed, immediately, whilst tooling down the motorway at 100kph.  No, these vehicles will be perfect – why would the driver ever need to take control?  After all, after aviation perfected the technique of flying passenger planes on autopilot with the capacity to even take off and land, they immediately fired all the pilots and removed all the controls – didn’t they?

The multitude of sensors and control systems required to ensure that these automated vehicles stay on the road and avoid contact with other vehicles or pedestrians will obviously be totally impervious to vibration or degradation from any other source and will perform flawlessly for ever – trust me!

Sit back and enjoy the ride.  As for me, a final ride in an automated hearse will be soon enough.


This post was written by Intern Staff.

 

 


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