[MR2] Discussion of the Automation of Automobiles
marc at marcmedina.com
Sat Dec 15 23:49:47 EST 2007
I'll give up my MR2 when they pry it from my cold, dead hands.
Wayne Arndt <waynearndt at waynearndt.com> wrote:
First I want you and everyone to know I am not against non-related MR2 auto
talk, but I can't stand it when conversations turn from discussion to rude &
childish quarrels. So don't be sorry for starting the conversation.
Now then, I fully agree with you here. I am all for innovation but don't
make it mandatory (air bags) and don't force control over us. I used to
think we lived in a free nation, but we're quickly becoming more and more
socialistic and controlled. I accept the fact that if I'm traveling 60mph in
a 3,000 lb chunk of steel and hit a tree or another 3,000 lb chunk of steel,
someone's going to get hurt. If that fact of life scares you, put on your
radioactive lead shield and stay home.
I just had a conversation today with my father about how new cars are
keeping people from becoming good drivers. The conversation started when the
Traction Control & ABS lights came on and stopped working on his Buick. ABS,
traction control, etc are all great added bonuses and nice options, but when
they are standard or a mandated standard and so popular people, become so
dependent on them that they can't drive without them and don't have a clue
about how to manually control their vehicle. I'm only 32 and can see how
things are changing. I was able to drive my Dad's early 70's 4 speed Datsun
by myself by the time I was 8 yrs old. How many teens these days have ever
driven a car with a manual transmission, no ABS, traction control, air
conditioning, power locks, power windows or power steering? How many
actually know there is such thing as not having all these? Any chance
they've even heard of AM Radio or seen an 8-track?
One day we'll be discussing how this all came about on cell phones implanted
in our skulls while we nap in the backseat of our automated car, which won't
even have a steering wheel and will be programmed to run no faster than
45mph and take 5 minutes to fully accelerate & brake. By this time the
authorities will have come and confiscated my '66 Charger, MR2 and
motorcycle because they will be deemed to be unsafe and require an
unpredictable human operator capable of errors...which we all know computers
will be void of...
* "God made men & women. Sam Colt made 'em equal." *
* - JMR *
From: mr2-bounces at mr2.com [mailto:mr2-bounces at mr2.com] On Behalf Of Ken
Sent: Friday, December 14, 2007 7:01 PM
To: mr2 at mr2.com
Subject: [MR2] Discussion of the Automation of Automobiles
Wayne and others of like mind --
Please don't go, or even think about it. For my part, I'll try to be good,
or at least better :-(
I have felt that subjects of general automotive interest are acceptable on
these MR2 lists, especially when not much else going on -- which there was
not. A total of 11 members contributed to the thread in point besides
yourself, which suggests to me that the assumed interest was indeed there --
just beaten to a pulp by two of us.
The fundamental interests that motivated me were plain techie fascination,
but also the societal aspects of where automobiles are going. After all, it
won't be feasible for most of us to maintain a low volume, high-tech,
severely aging set of wheels forever, and in fact, I think that there is a
significant chance that cars of this age and relatively primitive technology
could be ruled off the public roads -- beginning with certain freeway lanes,
for instance. Also, increasingly stringent emissions requirements, now
driven by the sudden panic associated with global warming -- not just the
detrimental effects of smog on our health -- could make older cars totally
illegal as a practical matter, at least in metropolitan areas where public
transportation is alleged (incorrectly) to be the panacea.
On the operational side of things, one wonders when the driving skills that
we seek to develop will be rendered moot by these automated systems, and
even by external control of our vehicles. Emissions created by newer OBDII
vehicles are measured in this state by plugging into the computer and asking
it if it's feeling well -- not by tailpipe sensors. That says that
government must exercise tight control over what is in the EMS. With
throttle-by-wire appearing, it would be quite feasible to have roadside
transponders transmitting local speed limits to your engine so you could not
The NHTSA has already decreed that all cars have stab aug systems by some
year in the near future (which seems to me to be counterproductive, because
the yahoos will just take advantage of the extra margin and crash in more
extreme modes... but whatever). It would be just as easy for them to decree
that the car's radio or extra module be active at all times to receive some
sub-carrier signal and relay max speed commands to the electronic throttle.
Given the fixation of the sanctimonious set on speed as an accident cause,
that is a perfectly reasonable extension of the "Good-to-Go" automated
Already, cars are getting "black boxes" that rival the ones used for crash
analysis in aircraft -- and which are being used to establish alleged
culpability in accident litigation. The owners' manual for the 2006 Camry
that I have seen is quite out-front about enumerating the data being
collected ("for vehicle design improvement research" -- oh, yeah), and the
extent was quite startling to me.
Most manufacturers are more coy about that, and even about where the
collection repositories are located. Some are in the air-bag modules and
others are in some part of the distributed automobile management systems --
or both. I have yet to find anyone who is able (or maybe willing) to tell
me what our '06 Accord is collecting.
My understanding is that the specific implementation of these capabilities
is as yet "voluntary" (no doubt with significant "arm-twisting" applied) as
is the m/o of this Administration's relationship to corporate America, but
the Detroit auto makers are lobbying for mandatory requirements (no doubt so
that they can tell you it's your fault that your Explorer did a 720 around
its longitudinal or transverse axis).
I have been doing a good deal of advocacy with various agencies of
government in what I perceive to be the public interest. I guarantee that
you must be vigilante for virtual terrorism applied by the government --
probably on balance more so than by Mideastern fanatics. To be sure, the
ubiquitous computer is a two-edged sword in these machinations.
Well, I hope this has been close enough to the melody in this venue not to
generate more acrimony. I didn't intend the previous discussion to get into
such a tail-chasing, entropy-producing mode. I just allowed myself to be
sucked-in to it, and I seriously regret it.
Have a nice weekend, and don't let er... holiday shopping get you down.
From: mr2-bounces at mr2.com [mailto:mr2-bounces at mr2.com]
On Behalf Of waynearndt
Sent: Friday, December 14, 2007 12:52 PM
To: Jon Oellrich; mr2 at mr2.com
Subject: Re: [MR2] Flying with Firearms EVEN MORE
I agree, threads like this that go on and on and on and fill up our email
baskets with non-MR2 related topics tempt me to unsubscribe altogether.
---------- Original Message -----------
From: Jon Oellrich
Sent: Thu, 13 Dec 2007 15:23:31 -0800
Subject: Re: [MR2] Flying with Firearms EVEN MORE
> This was a really funny thread to read backwards! It ended
> (well...yesterday anyway) more interesting, but got less so upon
> discovery that it all starts with a question of believability of a
> video--and that the question was based on the (circular) assumption
> that it would require too much R&D effort and that said effort
> couldn't have resulted in useful technology. Please. Are we far
> enough off topic, or should we go through all the individual reasons
> why a car being steered above, say, 50% of maximum traction requires
> a very high level of sophistication and that emergency maneuvers
> would obviously require both being able to control it in that realm
> and proving it. Maybe on an unfamiliar test track for a television
> audience? Somebody planning this for an MR2, or...?
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