Sunday, July 22, 2012

Will autonomous car tech save your life?

"But if we can prevent crashes altogether, that's even better." This statement comes at the end of a new video from the Highway Loss Data Institute, which explores how some crash avoidance systems are, in fact, reducing crashes.

Before we watch the video — and it really is worth watching — allow me to digress. The notion of achieving 100% crash prevention is, to my mind, a non-starter. It's like saying that kids can play sports without ever getting hurt, or that you can live with other people without ever catching a cold. Yes, you should do what you can to keep such outcomes to an absolute minimum, but life doesn't come with 100% guarantees, aside from those that apply to death and taxes. In fact, the only way to ensure a system is 100% safe is to ensure it does absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, the crash-avoidance systems in question are doing something, and in some cases, the something is good. The findings reported by the HLDI are fascinating, since they suggest that systems which take action on behalf of the driver are sometimes more effective than systems which provide warnings only. In other words, fewer crashes occur when the car, rather than the driver, takes control in a dangerous situation. Feeling like Captain Dunsel yet? :-)


  1. Is QNX currently the system used in automatic breaking, adjustable headlights, etc.?

  2. I don't think the QNX OS is currently used in either of the systems you mention. But the OS is, IMHO, well-suited to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) -- it has a long history in high-performance, safety-related systems that require high reliability, predictable response times, etc. - Paul