[FoRK] [Slate] Manual transmission?! I don't like manual *steering*!

khare at alumni.caltech.edu khare at alumni.caltech.edu
Fri Oct 30 11:48:01 PDT 2009

I must say, I only bought a Prius because it was the only Clunkers-qualifed replacement car with Radar cruise control we could get. 

I fell in love with that feature on our Cadillac XLR, where it was incidental to my decision at the time. Now, I won't let anyone in my extended family buy a car without it! 

This time, I didn't pay much attention to the LKA feature on the Prius options package, and I have something new that amazes me every day: automatic steering.

Yes, at highway speeds with clear lane markers, it will follow curves and exits! It's a great feeling while talking, tuning the radio or checking navigation to know there are more "eyes on the road".

And the self-parking feature rocks, too :)



 A freeway autopilot would have to keep you in your lane until your exit. It wouldn't zip around from lane to lane like a jerk. But I'm guessing most of us could live with that.

How farfetched is this idea? Consider what Lexus is already selling:Lane Keeping Assist, an intelligent system which can lessen the burden of steering. This system uses a stereo imaging camera to monitor white line road markings (subject to weather, climate and road conditions). Lane Keeping Assist offers two functions: [1] Lane Departure Warning: If the possibility of inadvertent lane departure is detected, the system provides an audio-visual warning and applies a brief corrective steering force. [2] Lane Keep: This can provide additional steering torque to help the driver apply the appropriate steering input to keep the vehicle within the lane.

So we're already beginning to automate driving in a manner similar to flying. Automation won't make humans pay attention to alerts telling them to retake control of their vehicles; that's our job, and it's why the Federal Aviation Administration was right to strip the Northwest pilots of their licenses. But if humans pay enough attention to step in when computers or other humans tell them to do so, there's no reason why computers can't do more of the driving. Then, perhaps, we could do what LaHood says we can't do: talk, text, and check our laptops at the wheel without putting anyone at risk.

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