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back to article Experts agree: Your next car will be smarter than you

Forget Google's self-driving car – for a few years, at least. Today's real action in the computer-meets-car arena is in the development of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), as was made abundantly clear at last week's GPU Technology Conference. "We're not going to find ourselves driving in an autonomous car tomorrow," …

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Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

If you can't fucking pay enough attention to drive safely, get the fuck off the road.

EOF

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Agree. Fucking stupid idea. This is akin to ABS and lack of predicted safety improvement. It's called risk compensation. People will simply take proportionally more risks, relying on technology to keep them safe.

Moreover, any one who drives frequently and does so well, can infer other vehicles' intent and plot projected movement almost mechanistically from tiny wobbles and driving style. (As well as auto make - if there's BMW overtaking you, you somehow know he's likely to cut you off soon enough) However, this is based on meatbag behavior and if you throw electronics in the mix, this predictability becomes less effective.

We already have vehicles that are able to take you from place to place without your intervention. You can even text, read, or watch a movie while riding them. They're called cabs and buses. Some of them are even driven by "professional drivers".

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Speaking as someone with a professional interest in the optimisation and rationalisation of traffic flow and performance, bring it on. Humans are pretty terrible at operating machinery, all things considered.

I'd be quite happy to drive a car that can drive itself in built-up areas, where most driving stress occurs, but which you can take control of, particularly when you're on an interesting road out in the mountains for example.

Self-driving cars can give significant improvements in congestion and safety, especially pedestrian safety, in built-up areas. Being forced into autonomous mode raises a few philosophical issues, but there are very good reasons to do it in areas such as city centres. I do worry about "big brother" getting mixed up in the equation though.

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Meh

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Where will I get my adrenaline rush from when I look up and realise the traffic has stopped, forcing me into emergency braking manoeuvres?

The relief I feel afterwards, having missed rear ending the car in front by millimetres is such a rush its close to sex.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Cars will never be smart enough to know the best way to get child sick stains off the back of the drivers seat headrest and door trims!

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

"especially pedestrian safety"

Pedestrian safety is up to the pedestrian, not the vehicle operator.

If you step into traffic without paying attention to your surroundings, my Percheron & buckboard will run you over, same as in 1849. A "road" is for vehicular traffic, not pedestrians.

Yes, in many "built up areas" pedestrians have an easement, allowing them to freely meander about in cross-walks ("zebra crossings" to you Brits) & the like, without fear of being at fault in an ensuing collision. Doesn't keep the fucking idiots alive, though, now does it? A ton(ne) or so of steel takes more time to stop from 35MPH than it takes you to verify there is no potential danger if you set foot into the crossing. Seriously. Think about it.

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Or worse, when accidents happen the offender will blame the auto pilot. Think of an accident involving a fellow by the name of Chip making the headlines: Fault does not lie with Chip, accident caused by faulty chip.

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@AC 08:21 (was: Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.)

Two words: Nature's Miracle.

http://www.natures-miracle.com/products/pet-odor-stain-removers/original-pet-stain-odor-remover.aspx

Works on everything from "teenager after fourteen pints of Stella" stains, to "pissed off goat pissing on the sofa in the clubhouse" to "Three feral Toms trying to clam ownership of the pickup after I left the window down one late Fall evening".

Children's puke is pedestrian ...

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Wow, a sensible comment.

This is my biggest concern. The law is going to have to take this sort of thing into consideration and sort through the ramifications.

That said, much as I adore driving, bring it on. Less congestion, more safety! How many hours have the Google cars ran on the public road? How many accidents have they had, and how does this relate to a human driver? Easy way to see the safety.

Those who think it is akin to ABS in that people will adjust to it... How? The human does not take control of the car, there is no risk to take.

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Totally agree. I'd say this generation of cars are probably smarter than some of their drivers.

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

On a slight tangent, as a frequent pedestrian I bloody hate it when you're trying to cross a road and THE ONLY CAR ON THE ROAD stops to let you cross; thanks for slowing both of us down instead of just getting out of my way by continuing your journey. I love crossing in front of a multi-ton death machine driven by someone who has just demonstrated a lack of situational awareness.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

So @Jake, you have never had an accident, even a fender bender? Never once come close to almost hitting another car? Never knocked a sidewalk? Never had any loss of traction on any road surface?

Because if you ever have then you nee to "get the fuck off the road".

You also enjoy sitting in queues of traffic for hours keeping alert just to move forward 10 foot? Enjoy a long commute when you have a load of documents to review for the next meeting?

Finally, do you also believe that every road user you might encounter during the day is so safe they aren't going to cause yourself or your family harm and therefore this wouldn't be an advantage?

I work in motorsport and have raced, I love driving and rallying. However I'm not so blinkered to not be able to see massive advantages in these 'driver aids'. The same way as I wouldn't have air-con, a radio, electric windows etc in my car if I wanted the most performance and best driving experience, but I do have them, go figure.

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@auburnman (was: Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.)

As a dude who frequently strolls about central Sonoma, CA with a dawg or two, I agree.

Worse is the fucking idiot who "helpfully" allows one, single, solitary car out of a parking-lot onto Hwy12, thus holding up a couple dozen other drivers. It's not "being nice", rather it's "impeding the flow of traffic" and a ticketable offense. You have the right-of-way on the thoroughfare, the car in the parking-lot has no transit rights whatsoever. IMO, the idiot holding up traffic should be taken out behind the barn & severely flogged.

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

They'll have blackboxes to record if/when the autopilot is engaged.

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@AC 09:31 (was: Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.)

Reductio ad absurdum doesn't work around these parts. Go try to scare uneducated people.

Oh, wait ...

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Re: @AC 09:31 (was: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.)

You never got a "Reductio ad absurdum" proof at math class?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Some car clocks are smarter than some drivers

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Happy

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

"They're called cabs and buses."

Some are even called <cough> "trains"

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Big Brother

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

" I do worry about "big brother" getting mixed up in the equation though."

And on past experience you damm well better be.

Whenever someone spunks this idea out (2nd or 3rd time round for this I think) the government approach always turns out to be a)big b)centralised c)holds stupid amounts of data for absurd lengths of time d)outsourced

QED clusterf**k waiting to happen.

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Umm.

I got accused elseforum of being a luddite for suggesting that "not wearing google glass while driving" was a sensible precaution.

I don't fancy your chances much with this idea! But yet, mysteriously, no such charge has been raised...

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

so... the driver has to operate gadgets and gismos whose sole purpose is to stop the driver being distracted by gadgets and gismos?

right. what idiot thought of that one?

eventually the driving test will consist of. those who can drive a manual, those who can only operate an auto, and the fuckwit test.

passing the fuckwit test and driving a fully autonomous fuckwit car has lowered the legal age at which one can hold a driving license to 8 years old.

good to see audi trying so hard in targeting their current demographic's mentality.

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Rant against courtesy? Nice.

I hate pedestrian crossing hangers.

You know the ones: loitering at pedestrian crossing looking like they wish to cross the road,

then madly gesticulating at you to move-on after you've stopped to let them cross.

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

@Jake 27/3/13 08:27

"Yes, in many "built up areas" pedestrians have an easement, allowing them to freely meander about in cross-walks ("zebra crossings" to you Brits) & the like, without fear of being at fault in an ensuing collision."

Actually, for us 'Brits' a zebra crossing is not an 'easement', that is what you have when you have a dip in the pavement to allow access to your driveway and you have *no* right of way on the pavement either.

According to the Highway Code for drivers

'Zebra crossings. As you approach a zebra crossing

look out for pedestrians waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop to let them cross

you MUST give way when a pedestrian has moved onto a crossing

allow more time for stopping on wet or icy roads

do not wave or use your horn to invite pedestrians across; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching

be aware of pedestrians approaching from the side of the crossing.'

The Highway code for pedestrians states,

'Zebra crossings. Give traffic plenty of time to see you and to stop before you start to cross. Vehicles will need more time when the road is slippery. Wait until traffic has stopped from both directions or the road is clear before crossing. Remember that traffic does not have to stop until someone has moved onto the crossing. Keep looking both ways, and listening, in case a driver or rider has not seen you and attempts to overtake a vehicle that has stopped.

So the onus is equally on the pedestrian and the driver to ensure there is time to stop, but if the pedestrian has set foot on the crossing you commit an offence by not stopping.

Icon, because you have to.

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Andrew Moore - I'd say the LAST generation of cars are probably smarter than this generation of drivers (or am I just getting older?)

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Actually some of these are good ideas. There are cars on the road now that detect when you're nodding off and nag you to pull into the nearest rest area or hotel. I always rather thought that was a good idea. It's not a feature I need (I have the sense to get off the road for a quick nap when I need to, which has annoyed my non-driving wife a time or two), but definitely one I'd like other people to have. And I have to admit I'd love to have a car that checks its own blind spots when preparing to change lanes. That would eliminate one of my bigger causes of road stress. For some reason I can't fathom my relatively small car has absolutely huge blind spots and no amount of fiddling with my mirrors has succeeded in shrinking them. I'd also love for the other drivers around here to have such a feature in their cars. I've had more than a few close calls because someone tried to make a lane change in heavy traffic without checking their blind spots.

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Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

"especially pedestrian safety"

Pedestrian safety is up to the pedestrian, not the vehicle operator.

You've obviously never been a pedestrian in Guildford. This is one of the few places I know where they really will run you over (or at least have a good try) rather than wait for you to get out of the way.

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Go

RE: Nature's Miracle

Sweet Crom YES, although I imagine there's a story about the pissed off goat in the clubhouse.

There's a reason why the pet supply stores sell it by the gallon.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

" The relief I feel afterwards, having missed rear ending the car in front by millimetres is such a rush its close to sex. "

Actually, that's exactly what autonomous braking systems do: they intervene late and stop you *very* uncomfortably close to the vehicle in front. Both by design: the former in order to allow you more time to take control of the situation yourself, the latter, the maximise the stopping room for the car behind you, and lessen the chances that you will get rear-ended after an emergency stop.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

We only stop to assess if you're worth running over.

Either that, or because you do not know what the pedestrian is going to do and you do not want the psychological scar of having taken or ruined someone's life, or because in some areas it is a legal requirement to give way to pedestrians if safe to do so, or even just because we value something called courtesy even if it means being slightly inconvenienced sometimes. Who knows?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

" So @Jake, you have never had an accident, even a fender bender? Never once come close to almost hitting another car? Never knocked a sidewalk? Never had any loss of traction on any road surface? "

Of course not, you Anonymous idiot. Can't you see our jake is God's gift to the automotive world? He is the Chuck Norris of drivers, the Mohammed Ali meet Bruce Lee meet Attila of the road, the Saviour of our highways.

At least in his strange mind he is. :)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

"so... the driver has to operate gadgets and gismos whose sole purpose is to stop the driver being distracted by gadgets and gismos?"

Errm, no. Assistive driving technologies are remarkably well thought out so that they do not get in the way unless they absolutely need to. At least from the manufacturer I bought my last car from.

What is your own experience, on the basis whereof you comment?

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Go

Re: Do not want, and in fact this kind of thing is a fucking 'orrible idea.

Be careful when driving in America because pedestrian rights vary form state to state. Some only have the right of way when crossing at an intersection with the light. Some have right of away in almost any situation and then there are the variations in-between.

But mostly, you should remember the old saying: "If you don't like my driving, get off the sidewalk!"

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FAIL

It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

who cause all those accidents for the 17-24 year olds... oh, wait...

I'm with Jake. I don't believe that adding more and more automation to vehicular control will do anything more than make driving even more frustrating. I can see it now... all those thrusting young executives in their sixty grand cars doing 50mph two feet behind each other and all behind a great smelly farting HGV... and the kids driving twenty year old fiestas doing ninety in the outside lane laughing as they go past.

DO NOT WANT.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

"I don't believe that adding more and more automation to vehicular control will do anything more than make driving even more frustrating"

You ain't kidding. Our car has all kinds of whats-it sensors hooked up to the computer - which has decided to go faulty. The garage want £100 just to hook it up so the first 15 minutes of any drive is interrupted with loud beeps and flashing messages on the display telling the driver that tyre pressures aren't monitors - I can do that myself thanks, that ABS isn't working - it is and some other random messages about windscreen wipers and auto-headlights - again, I can turn those on myself.

How much are these cars going to cost to maintain/repair?

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Re: It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

Convoy slipstreaming behind an "18-wheeler"?

Clearly only in America... I think that's the only place the big lorries have the same motorway speed limit as the cars. It really won't fly in the UK when you can SARTE and get there an hour later per 200 miles than in "manual".

Yes, it'll save a lot of fuel - but driving at 50 insteads of 70 saves most of that fuel anyway, and nobody does it.

Aside from the technology barriers, are you really going to wait for one of those to come along before starting your journey? Of course not! If you're happy to wait for a scheduled journey, you'll take a real train or a plane and hire a vehicle at the other end.

The technology needed to do this is a useful stepping stone to cars that drive themselves on motorways, but don't kid yourself that consumers will ever do it.

HGVs might, though. Many of them already slipstream anyway, I'd rather a computer was doing it.

The whole concept is a very scary thought for other road users though - getting safely on or off at a junction could be made very difficult by one of those formations.

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Re: It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

"Clearly only in America... I think that's the only place the big lorries have the same motorway speed limit as the cars"

Uh, no. For example, see:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limits_in_the_United_States#California

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Re: It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

"Clearly only in America... I think that's the only place the big lorries have the same motorway speed limit as the cars"

Also Washington State... "Speed Limit 70"..."Trucks 60"... Will take a picture next time I walk across the I-5, probably Friday.

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Re: It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

Aside from the technology barriers, are you really going to wait for one of those to come along before starting your journey?

Wait for one? No. Jump in behind one on the road? Sure. I don't know about the rest of the world, but in this little corner or the world it's danged near impossible to be on a major highway for more that half an hour without finding (and, since they tend to go slightly under the speed limit, usually passing) a big rig.

Personally if the system were set up the right way I'd have no problem slaving my car to a semi and getting to my destination a little later. Those guys are (usually) some of the most skilled drivers on the road. That's what happens when you've got a million or so miles of road behind you. Of course there's a lot of room for setting the system up wrong.

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WTF?

Re: It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

> Our car has all kinds of whats-it sensors hooked up to the computer - which has decided to go faulty.

Recently hired a Passat from Enterprise on a driving trip around the UK.

*The* most frustrating car I have ever driven.

Pulled off from the hire place with the engine running, pulled over to a motorway services for a bite, got back in and couldn't figure out how to start it (it worryingly stopped itself when I parked up). Eventually rang the hire people to discover that you have to do a funny little dance with the keyless lock thing and the clutch.

It doesn't have a handbrake either. You have a little button instead that operates a "power" brake. Looking past the obvious problem of how to apply the handbrake in a fault situation, like total electrical failure, it makes hill starts practically impossible, especially since you have to have your foot on the foot brake to disengage the "handbrake".

The car had some new tyres on. About halfway through the trip, it decided to tell me that there was a problem with the tyre pressures. Didn't tell me which ones or if it was serious or anything. I had no way of knowing if it was predicting a blowout or if they were just a "bit" low. Kinda freaked me out. Looked around the tyres and they seemed OK, nothing obviously flat, so I carried on. Eventually stuck a bit more in at a petrol station, still got a warning. Carried on to see if the warning would go, it didn't. Read the manual: turns out you have to manually "recalibrate" the tyre pressure system.

If that is the future of motoring, then you can count me out.

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Re: It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

The whole concept is a very scary thought in general, especially when you consider these things:

1) In order for car slipstreaming to work (It's easier for big rigs/lorries since they have a much larger shape), the cars have to be playing NASCAR, i.e. nearly bumper to bumper and nowhere near the good 3-4 seconds needed for a proper stopping distance.

2) There's often this fraud done of stopping immediately in front of a big rig and getting rear ended, then suing for such.

So, who's up for a doing this setup, big rig suddenly stops due to failure or (2) above, and decapitation due to the lower half of the car sliding under the trailer? We could call it heads-free driving!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

Skelband, you make a very good illustrative point for most of the comments in here. Please allow me:

-> Pulled off from the hire place with the engine running, pulled over to a motorway services for a bite, got back in and couldn't figure out how to start it (it worryingly stopped itself when I parked up).

<- Yes, it's called a Start/Stop system and most new cars have had them for the last two/three years: http://www.caranddriver.com/features/engine-stop-start-systems-explained-tech-dept The "funny dance" with the keys consisted of switching the ignition off and then on again (you can only switch back on if the car is in neutral, or park if auto, and the brake depressed) because you did not realise that although the engine was not running, the ignition was still on. To be fair, I got confused the first time I drove a car with a Start/Stop system too--some car hire people will point out this feature to customers in case they're not aware of it, but most don't.

-> It doesn't have a handbrake either. You have a little button instead that operates a "power" brake.

<- Which frees up space in the centre console (Mercedes approach is to use a pedal on the left hand side).

-> Looking past the obvious problem of how to apply the handbrake in a fault situation, like total electrical failure

<- It is a failsafe system, so the handbrake stays on even if you remove the battery from the car.

-> it makes hill starts practically impossible, especially since you have to have your foot on the foot brake to disengage the "handbrake".

<- No, you do not. The handbrake disengages automatically at the right moment when you depress the accelerator pedal (and engage the clutch in the event that you're driving a manual transmission). It makes hill starts a non-event. IIRC VWs also tend to have an auto-hold feature, so that if you use the brake on a hill, it will keep brake pressure applied even if you release the brake pedal, until you actuate the accelerator.

-> The car had some new tyres on. About halfway through the trip, it decided to tell me that there was a problem with the tyre pressures. Didn't tell me which ones or if it was serious or anything

<- Tyre pressure monitoring systems are fitted to all new cars in the EU by law since last year [ http://www.techeurope.co.uk/tech/news/view/35/European-legislation-on-TPMS-imminent ] (and it has been a standard feature since long before it), and it works using the ABS / ESP systems already in the car to detect a persistent discrepancy in wheel rotation speeds. VWs, like Audis, also have the option of fitting pressure sensors to the wheels so that you can read out the actual tyre pressures on the dashboard, but that is an optional extra.

-> If that is the future of motoring, then you can count me out.

<- More than happy to do so, but if you must get on the road again, consider familiarising yourself with your new ride before you set off.

The anecdote: yours, like many opinions here and elsewhere, are formed out of ignorance so should be taken with a large pinch of salt, mine included (I do not hold this against you though! At least you have explained your experience in some detail so one can see where you're coming from).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

"The whole concept is a very scary thought in general, especially when you consider these things:"

Would you believe that you're not the first one to "consider these things"???

1. Read up on inter-vehicle short range comms and forward-looking radar. You do not need the 3 second stopping distance because the cars brake automatically as necessary without driver intervention.

2. With newer lorries and buses having automatic braking systems that does not really work either (heavy vehicles tend to have much more braking power than cars and light trucks. I have heavy vehicle driving experience, and licences, btw).

As for the car sliding under the trailer, at least in Europe (which is where this tech is being developed and trialled), trailers are fitted with underride guards that would stop you from sliding under it in either a side or rear crash (if it's a frontal crash, you've just hit a parked trailer).

Do people really assume that automotive engineers are psychopaths intent on killing as many road users as possible or what?

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Re: big rig suddenly stops

You're so close behind it that there's very little speed difference at impact ...

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Re: It must be us old fogeys with no perception of speed or distance

"Do people really assume that automotive engineers are psychopaths intent on killing as many road users as possible or what?"

I've seen Smart Cars on the highway. I used to drive a Lada. I've seen the results of Mitsubishi Evo vs almost anything else with four wheels and Honda Life (a.k.a the four-wheeled motorcycle, or just Honda Death) vs anything on the road down to and including a motorcycle. I _know_ that some (many?) automotive engineers (especially German, Italian, and Japanese ones) are psychopaths intent on killing as many road users as possible.

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Stop

Hold on...

"Riches said that one clear advantage of SARTRE is that it would save money. "The guys behind will be saving some fuel," "

TAANSTAFL :- yes, the guy behind you saves on fuel... but as the guy in front "dragging", *you* use more fuel.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hold on...

I'm not sure if that's true with slipstreaming. I'm no physicist, but you're displacing the same amount of air as when you aren't "dragging" someone. The trailing cars simply sit in the wake of that displacement so experience less resistance themselves. That displacement would still be occurring whether they are there or not.

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Re: Hold on...

It's not "dragging". It's increasing the length of the total package, whilst minimizing the total drag without compromising the power to weight ratio. The trailing cars actually decrease the friction ("drag") experienced by the front car, by smoothing the airflow off it's rear (and making it rear-end light). The cars "in the middle" experience a loss in overall aerodynamics, and can get quite twitchy. The tail-end car has more rear traction than the front car, and can sometimes use that to it's advantage when passing.

Drafting at Daytona or Talladega or Indy is more an art-form than anything else, but the physics is clear.

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Re: as the guy in front "dragging", *you* use more fuel.

No, the vehicle behind you is effectively acting as a spoiler for your air flow, because it occupies the space where your turbulence would otherwise be creating a low pressure zone.

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Joke

Just an (fun) impression...

Aaah, here we go... Gotta go visit a customer in Amsterdam, it'll be a one hour or so drive from Wageningen and with my new smart car I can work out some paperwork along the way. HA, those suckers in public transportation with their big brother chipcard.... (in Holland you need a chipcard for this; thing is that to get access to reductions and such you need to register with $company and give them access to your bank account so that they charge you automagically. Many people like myself call that big brother because they can very easily track you).

And so we're on our way, the car drives me through Wageningen and Ede flawlessly. I do get the occasional weird looks when people see me read the newspaper right behind the wheel while the light turns green but they're just jealous. Suckers! :-)

Soon we're on the highway to Amsterdam and the speed also increases. Due to traffic the car remains in the right lane (we drive on the right side of the road, no pun intended) and everything is going just fine.

Until all of a sudden: "Warning, gas station about in 2 km, please get ready for a quick stop to pick up required fuel". What?! I filled her up only yesterday, what's this for nonsense? I check my dashboard and there it is; 80% full. That is WAY then enough to make it to Amsterdam and back, so that we can get some fuel in Germany later on (much cheaper over there). Aah, must be a glitch...

So we continue and what do you know; "Warning, gas station in 1 km, please get ready for a fuel stop!". No, what the heck is this for nonsense. I hit the dashboard meter and it remains on 80% full.

"Warning, taking exit in 500m to refuel". Ok, screw this. I throw my paperwork on the passenger seat, click the override button and take the wheel myself. "Override engaged, have a good drive" the automated voice tells me. Finally we're getting somewhere, I increase speed and go over to the left lane. Time to get moving!

Then, only 10 minutes later, "Warning, fuel tanks nearly empty. Enforcing fuel stop in 2km", the autovoice goes again. What?!

And what do you know; 8 minutes later: "Warning, overriding car control for emergency fuelstop. Please do not be alarmed", and all of a sudden I can no longer steer the car myself. It takes back on the throttle, returns to the right lane and obviously gets ready to stop at a gas station with a nearly full fuel tank.

What the hell ?!

As expected; there we are 2 minutes later... "Warning, emergency fuel stop. Please get out and replenish fuel reserves".

But but but.... "You're completely filled up, you moron!" I cry out, knowing very well that this car doesn't have voice dictation or such. "Fine!...", I get out completely pissed off, and refuel the car for a meager E 5,-.

When paying the man behind the desk points me to a sign: "Minimum fuel consumption 10liter". Great! So now I gotta pay for fuel I couldn't even buy.

Quite agitated I get back in the car, fire her up and get ready to drive away. "Warning, fuel reserves nearly depleted, getting ready for emergency stop on parking lot!". WHAT?!

I pick up my phone and call my dealer. What the heck is going on here, this is just way stupid. Right, the mechanic will be here in one hour or so, great. Better cancel that appointment, because there's NO way I'll be able to make it this way.

And finally he arrives, takes place behind the week, starts the car... "Ah yes, I see what's going on. No need to worry sir, it seems the battery is nearly dead. This car has a small software bug where it sometimes doesn't detect the fuel source as expected; so it mistook your battery for your fuel tank".

"So what do I do now? I need to be in Amsterdam today"... But the mechanic told me not to worry; he would simply grab an emergency firmware update from the company, install it and all should be well.

And what do you know? 20 minutes later I'm finally back on the road, behind the wheel and the morning paper again. MUCH better...

"Warning, screenwiper water reserves nearly empty. Getting ready to stop to replenish water at next fuel station". What?!

Now quite annoyed I call the car company again demanding to speak with that same mechanic who helped me out. "Yeah well, we couldn't really fix the firmware just yet so we simply switched two other sources. Water reserves you say? Let me look it up... Ah yes, here it is: that would now mean that your oil reserves are a bit low". "No they're not, I filled those only last week", I protest.

"Yes, but you now forget to take tank capacity into account. While the oil tank maybe full enough, if you take the same storage percentage, apply that on your much smaller water tank then it would be a lot emptier".

That doesn't make any sense to me, but ok.. I'll just fill both tanks up and then I can finally be on my way again. What a lousy day this is turning out to be.

As soon as we stop at the gas station I get right to work; just to make sure I fill both the water and oil reserves, and to rule out anything else also take care of tire pressure.

AND we're on our way again... "Warning, oil tanks filled beyond maximum capacity. Risk of fire in engine imminent, making emergency stop!".

WHAT?!

Damn this shit, this is almost as bad as the time Windows told me that I didn't have enough free space on my drive to delete some of my files!

"There's no need to become insulting sir", my car suddenly responds...

(sorry; start of the day, I feel energetic, ready to DO stuff so before I knew I had this all written up. Sorry for possible typo's, not gonna reread just yet).

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Anonymous Coward

But think of the data..

There is already a serious issue at the moment with car manufacturers sticking in Google features without making it very clear that it will only work when you supply personal details (I'm dealing with a case right now), and as long as that has not been solved properly I would advise to keep well away from any of such technology.

The parking thing will only work if your location can be matched against a parking space - who ensures this search is kept anonymous? Who makes sure the car manufacturers (who are chronically naive when it comes to IT, security and privacy in car design) do not buy in technology which has those issues left "unmentioned" (from what I've seen so far, "covered up" or at least "gingerly avoided in discussions" seems to be more accurate)?

The war on terrorists has turned into the war on privacy because the companies that grew up in the wave of privacy invasions post 9/11 are not going to let go of their main source of vast income willingly - why do you think Brussels and Bern are awash with Google lobbyists right now? This is also why I really, really would not want a Google car to drive me around. No thanks.

SARTRE is an interesting idea because that's more LAN than WAN - it needs not extend beyond the chain of cars. I just suspect that some people never want to be the first in the chain, because that's the one car that does NOT benefit from chaining. Maybe it needs to have a counter, so that after 5 chains or x kilometres it automatically designates you as head vehicle. It may also need a disqualifier for yobs who will swing back and forth over lanes just to see the whole chain snake back and forth :)

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