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back to article Steelie Neelie calls for 'every vehicle digital'

Famous Eurocrat "Steelie" Neelie Kroes has called on the EU's car and ICT industries to make "every vehicle digital" and thereby keep the bloc competitive on the world stage. Kroes, who nowadays rejoices in the title European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda, gave it as the Commission's view that digital tech and …

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More in car gimicks we dont need.

Cash better spent developing brake discs that last more than 30,000 miles.

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Re: Brake discs.

We had that years ago. Then brake pads got caught up in the "all asbestos use = bad" arsehattery and the existing asbestos pad compounds got replaced with asbestos free ones that wear through steel discs like they're going out of fashion.

Replacing your discs every 30,000 miles is a direct cost to you of the 'elf 'n safety industry.

Then again, when you find out (as I did the other day) that a complete set of discs and pads for your car costs 170EUR*, compared to a garage quote to replace just the pads of 350EUR, it's not just the safety nazis taking the piss here....

*Plus a couple of hours to perform the trivial fitting task.

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Stop

Better drivers?

Maybe don't use your brakes so much or so heavily. Anticipate road conditions and (esp. if you drive a manual) use engine braking. I'm not suggesting changing gear to slow down but <good situational awareness>+<lifting off well in advance>+<not driving like a bat out of hell>=<not using your brakes much and/or barely touching them>.

My last car got to 47k without needing discs or pads changing. My current car is at 35k and the garage said the brakes looked fine, plenty of wear left on them.

Some classic mistakes I see all too often on the road:

* Accelerating between closely spaced roundabouts/lights.

* Maintaining speed when approaching a queue or speed restriction then braking at the last minute.

I learnt to drive over a quarter of a century ago and my instructor told me "Brakes are for stopping and correcting mistakes. Not for adjusting your speed".

This will also save you fuel, should reduce transmission wear and tear and give a more comfortable ride.

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Brake discs

& dont drive through puddles like a twit to avoid quenching them when they are hot!

137,000 & still on second set

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Anonymous Coward

Or just....

Drive most of your 30k miles a year on motorways like I do. Constant high speed is really good!

Electric cars with regenerative braking, anyone?

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@AndrueC

"Brakes are for stopping and correcting mistakes. Not for adjusting your speed".

The advice these days is "Gears to go, brakes to slow".

Of course driving efficiently (hypermiling) will also help matters as you mention.

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Obsolete advice

"I learnt to drive over a quarter of a century ago and my instructor told me "Brakes are for stopping and correcting mistakes. Not for adjusting your speed"."

I learnt more recently. My instrutor told me such advice was obsolete and from the days of less effective brakes. He also pointed out brake pads are cheap, engines and gear boxes are expensive.

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Mine last a long long time

At 70,000 miles my last 3 cars and trucks still had over half the original brake pads remaining. The rotors were a long way from needing any attention.

Then again on my KTM in the mud I get as little as 30 miles on a set of pads. Rarely more than 400 miles.

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Not what I meant

The comments about not wearing out gearboxes are valid in themselves but don't apply to what I wrote. I did state that changing gear in order to slow down was inappropriate. I wasn't suggesting using the transmission as your brakes - merely easing off the accelerator rather than simply going straight from the accelerator to the brake. If your transmission/engine can't handle you easing off the accelerator (or in higher gears simply taking your foot right off) then there's something seriously wrong with your vehicle.

If you're anticipating the road and not stuck in a stop/start queue(*) then you should be able to control your speed using just the accelerator. Passengers in the vehicle should barely be aware of speed changes. I'll grant that it's a bit more difficult in an automatic (which is what I've been driving for the last four years) but I still don't use my brakes very much.

(*)Although the trick here is not to hang off the bumper of the vehicle in front. Hang back and dribble your way along. With luck you may be able to maintain a steady 10mph and never actually come to a halt.

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OK, I'll agree to an extent

But even if slowing down by taking your foot off the accelerator there is (as my instructor pointed out) some merit to putting your foot on the brake pedal a little bit - it lights up those funky red lights on the back of the car that in turn can improve the reaction time of the person behind you.

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make every vehicle digital ?

And track every movement they make, record everywhere they go and shaft customers for servicing to name but a few.

No thanks.

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circling fleets of empty cars

Simple solution. Change the congestion charge to bill per mile driven in the zone. Would be easy once all the cars have big-brother ICT controllers in them :(

Given how much effort people put into bypassing payment for relatively low-value electronic services like cable/satellite TV, I can't hep but feel that there's a huge market out there for black boxes to stealth all these electronic cars that we're going to be driving. Cloned number plates will soon be so old-fashioned.

Not to mention that they'll be so horrendously expensive to service that they'll become essentially disposable at the component level. Take them in once a year to have the whole wheel assembly (motor, brakes, etc.) replaced, bin them after 5 years. Wonderfully friendly for the environment.

Just shows yet again that we really don't need civil servants like Kroes, their only priority is to justify their own existence.

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Orbiting Cars

"We here on the Reg future motoring desk tend to suspect that there might be a tendency for car owners, failing perhaps to find affordable parking in city centres, to simply order their vehicles to orbit locally while they did a bit of shopping or went to the pub etc."

I suspect you are forgetting that what makes parking expensive (beyond the obvious money grabbing profit machines that are parking authorities) is the price of land near to where everyone wants to go. If the cars can drive themselves then they can drive themselves to lower priced out of town parking while still allowing the occupants to be picked up and dropped off at the destination.

Think about having no on street parking, only pickup/drop off/loading bays and a few massive parking centers 5-10 minutes drive away. Especially if those massive parking centers double up as automated charging points.

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No, it's not !

Critical to the safety etc ? No it's not. It's critical to turning Europe in it's entirety into a police state, giving the EU and it's dubious cronies access to everything that anybody is up to all of the time.

This woman would make an excellent partner for Eric Schmidt. Or Adolf Schickelgruber..

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Pint

THERE IT IS!

Mention the word "EUROPE" and "COMMISSION" in the UK and you can guarantee Godwin will not be far behind!

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Alert

If we collide...

... and I'm not using computer control, does that make me guilty by default?

Conversely, is a computer controlled car capable of culpability for an accident?

If so, is it the driver's choice of budget software, or his foreign software provider to blame? (please note, 'software is provided on an "AS IS" basis, without warranty of any kind').

And suppose a bug is identified? Will refuseniks be allowed out of prison for rejecting computer control? Or would that undermine confidence in the global car industry? (so therefore .... 'not in the public interest' ).

I don't want a connected car. In fact, given ANPR, I don't want a car.

I just want a good bike, fresh air, birdsong, rain (or sunshine), and a cycle track. And freedom, that's all.

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Badgers

Software

"The left? When did they start driving on the left? That's not in the specification."

"Well I noticed that rain affected the radio range, so I made it drive a bit closer when it's wet."

"Don't worry we'll just add a kilometres to miles lookup table in the next release."

"The new carve-'em-up-and-force-our-way-in feature is proving very popular."

<- Roadkill: "Badgers? We don't need no stinking badgers."

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Oh yes....

Quote: "We here on the Reg future motoring desk tend to suspect that there might be a tendency for car owners, failing perhaps to find affordable parking in city centres, to simply order their vehicles to orbit locally while they did a bit of shopping or went to the pub etc. The cost of fuel would probably be a lot less than that of a parking space. Fleets of empty cars driving about awaiting a recall from their absent owners might become a serious irritation."

This.

Or collecting you from airports / train stations - making taxi's redundant. Count me in for that!

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Future Monitoring Desk

Quote:

*We here on the Reg future motoring desk tend to suspect that there might be a tendency for car owners, failing perhaps to find affordable parking in city centres, to simply order their vehicles to orbit locally while they did a bit of shopping or went to the pub etc. The cost of fuel would probably be a lot less than that of a parking space. Fleets of empty cars driving about awaiting a recall from their absent owners might become a serious irritation.

What? How can empty cars that are silently roaming a local area become a serious irritation? To whom? To other cars? The drivers don't exist any longer: we are now car owners! Cars that don't meet the auto-driving requirements wouldn't be allowed on the road any longer, for sure, because the human error is so big, that the human driver will cause traffic-flow-disruptions.

Aha, to pedestrians they become an irritation? Why? Because an empty drives on while the traffic light is green? As it should! But that means that pedestrians cannot cross the road anymore as and when they want? I hope they built a auto-disrespect for wild-crossing pedestrians, so that the car automagically speeds up by accident!

Oh, to cyclists, you mean, for sure! Why would a cyclist care whether the cars (that are no longer a danger because they don't have the tendency to drive closer to cyclists or use the horn when driving up from behind) are actually empty or not? Auto-driven cars will have their own lane, as will cyclists...

Maybe, to bikers? Why would you want to ride your motorbike where there is a lot of automated car driving? Doesn't make sense: Intensly driving a motorbike vs relaxed being whisked to work... I'd go for the relaxed whisking...

For whom, future monitoring desk???

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"Auto-driven cars will have their own lane, as will cyclists..."

More likely: Auto driven cars get to use bus lanes. Cyclists have to make do with a foot-wide strip near the kerb like they always have.

And you wonder why some people would rather just pootle along the pavement at 5mph...

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: "Auto-driven cars will have their own lane, as will cyclists..."

I don't care what they'd rather, they shouldn't.

But let's not get into all that again.

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Badgers

If you're prepared to ride along a busy road on a bicycle...

..you're either braver than I am, or just insane.

But then, you work here don't you?

(I'm glad the Moderatrix doesn't know where I live...)

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Go

orbiting

I see a few posters have already mentioned the car driving to an out of town parking space, that would be the obvious solution, not endlessly wasting fuel driving around.

The privacy concerns are easily addressed though, just ensure that the software/hardware is under the control of the owner. Not the extent of overriding the steering behaviour or something, but to the extent of making it possible to deny access to the logs, deleted them every 2 hours, etc... A court order would be needed to get access to such logs anyway and if they're regularly deleted then your privacy is maintained. I suppose we'd have to ensure that the car wasn't transmitting uniquely identifiable info to every road sign it passed, but that's possible.

I like driving sometimes, but there are other times when I'd be more than happy to let the car take over and have a nap or read a book. There are definitely legislative issues to sort out though about culpability.

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Pint

Ello! Ello! Ello!

"Now where were you at the time the accident occured and the deceased copped it?"

"Oh, about 10 miles away in the Blue Water shopping complex, buying games in HMV!"

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WTF?

What?

"Europe leads in wireless communication to and from vehicles. That is critical to improve both safety and efficiency."

Yes, I saw a smash on the M4 when someone braked too hard causing someone else to swerve into a car that hit the barrier and then flipped. I remember thinking, "if only they had all had wi fi that would have been less calamitous"

Not. More tracking, monitoring and controlling more like.

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Not?

It most certainly would as all cars in the train would have braked equally at the same time.

Although to be honest any half decent autonomous car would have, but having wireless comms allows them to react before there is even a visible problem.

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any half decent autonomous car

Well, to be really honest, any autonomous half-decent DRIVER would have been keeping a sufficiently large safety distance that a reaction like a swerve wouldn't have been necessary in the first place.

I sometimes wonder whether making the driving test so thorough that we halve the number of drivers on the road wouldn't be the best solution for both safety and the environment. Unrealistic, I know, it would never last past an election...

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Pint

Keep a sufficiently large safety distance

and some arsehole will pull into it.

How about retests every 10 years if you have a clean licence, or 5 if you have any points?

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@dave 46

"It most certainly would as all cars in the train would have braked equally at the same time."

The only way this will happen is if we deskill the drivers still further and trust the cars (having perfected the auto control systems first) and the software to react more consistently in the event of the unexpected. However, we can only program them to expect the foreseen unexpected, if you see what I mean. Pilots are already complaining that they are being deskilled as the planes become ever more automated and when something fails, the younger pilots have no real experience of manual flight to fall back on. In reality of course, none of this matters as it will never happen and it will all just be used to track and log all of our movements still further.

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Gates Horns

Great

"It looks like you're about to have an accident. Would you like help with that?"

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Sure-fire way to put people off Electric cars

Making all electric cars self-drive is a sure-fire way of making sure a good percentage of people that would otherwise of considered going electric won't touch the tech with a barge pole - for a variety of reasons - privacy, lack of trust in the "safety" of the autopilot etc.

This is surprising, considering the EU's normal modus operandi is slowly-slowly-catchy-monkey.

One has to wonder whether is this just a numpty stepping out of line (one too many tech junkets?) or whether the need to track, monitor and charge per mile (to replace petrol duty) is so important it needs shoe-horning in there to start with...

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Joke

Diagnostics

"You have just had an accident. Do you want to send an error report to Microsoft"?

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You have just totaled your car.....

.....would you like Windows to search for a solution to this? Solution found: We suggest you install a new driver. (Sorry could not resist that one!

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3G?

If every car's connected, who needs 3G? The number of cars on the road suggests a mesh network to me, backed up with a backbone running along motorways and green-signed A roads.

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Happy

Ho hum, back to Classic cars then.

Easy and cheap to maintain, dirt cheap insurance, little or no depreciation (sometimes the opposite), bugger all in tax and usually a bit more fun too.

Now it seems that in the not too distant future they'll also come equipped with a metaphorical two fingers stuck up towards Brussels.

It might be getting on for time to dig out the old MGB and fix it.

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Happy

Hmmm

Double de-clutch!

Biceps like tree-trunks to turn the wheel.

Iffy heating, 20 mins to clear the windscreen of ice.

Drinks like a fish.

A bugger to find parts, except in junk yards from odd boiler-suited men.

Very iffy safety mechanisms when the worst happens.

I'll keep my nice warm, 3 year old Honda diesel, thanks. I don't mind paying a little extra for modern technology which allowed me to walk away without a scratch, when some dingbat cretin plowed into my car at 35mph, 4 months ago!

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Happy

Not all classics are hard to drive or maintain

You can get classic cars with power steering, servo discs, automatic transmissions, decent fuel economy, etc.

You can make some allowances for fuel economy when you aren't losing a couple of grand a year in depreciation. Or convert to LPG, which is usually cheap and easy to do on older carburettor or single point injection engines.

Recently a water pump for my wife's modern car was £400 +VAT for the parts alone. It took 8 hours at the garage to fit it. I had to do one on one of my classics recently and it cost me £43 +VAT and arrived next day from the supplier. Fitted it myself in an hour and a half. Even if you pay a mechanic thats 2 hours, £80 plus your parts, not a big bill.

If you buy some obscure 1940s Panhard or something then don't expect it to be easy but there are plenty of options with great parts supply, low parts prices, decent reliability and great fun drivability that some anonymous modern derv will never come close to!

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IT Angle

The future of driving tests...

Mirrors...check

Seatbelt...check

Start Engine...Check

Make sure firewall and antivirus are running...check

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Joke

Nissan Micra

My brothers Nissan Micra was driven in a digital manner.

Either flat out or stop. 1 or 0

Then the engine blew up.

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dak
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Ermmm...

How's this going to be fitted to my 1969 Lotus, then?

In a pile-up of several cars, is the driver of the one car not fitted with this gubbins going to be the obvious culprit until proved otherwise?

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Anonymous Coward

Secondary Safety

There is far too much emphasis placed on secondary safety in the EU. Primary safety is the most important thing, that is to say the avoidance of accidents in the first place. And the only way to achieve this properly is by good driving standards. Unfortunately there are far too many crap drivers out there, in about 200 miles yesterday I saw countless drivers who were so inattentive that the only reason they avoided accidents was that other drivers were avoiding them. Electronic devices to avoid these accidents sound great in theory, but in practice like any other component they can fail. And the biggest issue with that is that it's one of those components that you can't be sure whether it's working until it's called into action.

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Anonymous Coward

The more I read this...

...the more I like the idea of a classic car.

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Flame

Already digital

My 75 MGB's electrical system has always been purely digital. Its either on or its off thanks to Lucas, the prince of Darkness.

Fire because I was given the car after its very fine Lucas alternator caught fire while its former owner was trying to sell it. She paid me to haul it off.

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Give the driver something in exchange

If traffic lights would adapt to transponders in vehicles to optimize flow then drivers might voluntarily purchase transponders to retrofit their vehicles. Especially if the network would provide instructions to the driver as to how to make every light. "Lights timed for 37 MPH".

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Boffin

Sounds more like a re-hash of PROMETEUS

i.e. a huge boondoggle, where automotive engineers at EU car companies get to play with expensive toys, with little or no real-world applications.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EUREKA_Prometheus_Project

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Pirate

I do like a bit of tech...

...I don't think I'd be here otherwise.

But i think the only WiFi I want in my car is streaming my MP3s from my cloud based music collection.

And I can live without that really.

I daily drive a Ford Mustang which is old enough not to even have electronic ignition...

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FAIL

Really? really???

No electronics? So no coil? no points? no crank? (how old is this thing...does it actually use internal combustion and if so...how to you set it off...spart plugs are electronic...).....

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Terminator

"Fleets of empty cars...

"... driving about awaiting a recall from their absent owners might become a serious irritation."

Besides, does anyone else remember Maximum Overdrive?

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Anonymous Coward

"European Commission Vice President for the Digital Agenda"

I want an offical title too, and as a European citizen I've already paid for one. How about "European Tax Drain Stopcock Operative"?

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Grenade

Orbiting empty cars...

If it means the thoughtless and selfish would stop using disabled bays because they don't like walking, then I'm in favour.

Failing that, a disabled bay autonomous mechanism that will break the legs of non-disabled drivers, would do at a pinch.

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