In the 1970s, Canadian daredevil Ken Carter had a plan: He wanted to jump a rocket-powered car over the St. Lawrence River. Ultimately, the stunt's promoters put another driver behind the wheel and the jump was unsuccessful. But there's more to the story. The Devil at Your Heels, posted online courtesy of Canada's National Film Board, is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the five-year lead-up to the jump and the eleventh-hour betrayal that cost Ken Carter a chance at his larger-than-life dream. [more inside]
Since 2009, Google cars have been in 16 crashes, mostly fender-benders, and in every single case, the company says, a human was at fault. Researchers in the fledgling field of autonomous vehicles say that one of the biggest challenges facing automated cars is blending them into a world in which humans don’t behave by the book. These robots "have to learn to be aggressive in the right amount, and the right amount depends on the culture.” (SLNYT)
Toyota executives are currently testifying before Congress about the safety issues that have led to the recall of millions of vehicles. They insist that "We are confident that no problems exist with the electronic throttle control system in our vehicles." Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) says "I would not consider... of value" their report in support of this claim.
Interesting article at Slate, In Defense of Jaywalking, where the author describes how the media and others often slant coverage of pedestrian vs auto accidents--examples include San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe , and New York Post columns. Police, who are typically car-bound, are often biased in favor of other drivers. Not unexpectedly the Federal Highway Administration has curious language regarding walkers--"Still, almost no one can avoid occasional pedestrian status". Even the term jaywalking is commonly misused. Solutions? More money towards safer walking (including a reversal of funding policies that favor cars), better places to walk, pedestrian-friendly engineering, lower urban speed limits, harsher penalties for drivers that violate pedestrian's rights, and critical reading of the often selective and sensationalized media coverage of traffic crashes.
The Unofficial Guide to the DMV ― This web site was created to provide easy-to-access information and resources for all your Department of Motor Vehicles needs for all 50 states. Details about driver’s licenses, driving records and ID cards, as well as vehicle registrations, title transfers, bills of sale and smog checks are available here. [more inside]
"Your car will be watching the road even if you're not" Or so says DaimlerChrysler in their new ad campaign. Electronic eyes, infrared systems, ways to keep your eyes on the road better.... All in good time, as we all expected - but wouldn't you be worried if your car could just stop itself if it saw a squirrel in the road? (via the Wall St. Journal ad 10/9/02)
"NASCAR has sold its soul to the devil," says 45-year-old veteran driver Ricky Rudd, who's thinking about retirement. Maybe he's just pissed about losing to younger competitors. Or maybe he has a point when he says, "They are massaging this thing to target a certain crowd and before you know it, they'll have us up there flexing and in bathing suits like we're professional wrestlers." NASCAR's definitely been trying to broaden its appeal in other ways. And when is the increasingly popular racing world going to start requiring soft wall technology at all of its tracks, anyway? Last Sunday's wreck during Indy 500 practice seems to have convinced one driver, at least, that soft walls work.
Yesterday, the Good Morning Silicon Valley webpage at the SJ Merc (which I love since it keeps me from having to see CNET's god awful ads) had an interesting blurb as an offshoot of the whole NY cell-phone safety debacle (scroll to the last item.) Columnist John Paczkowski asked if it was possible to change your pants in a moving car at 65 miles an hour. He got some pretty funny responses. What have YOU done in a moving car that you shouldn't have?
GM encourages new SUV owners not to drive. "No injuries yet." But how bad does the defect have to be for them to tell their customers not to drive the damn things?