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Kremmling " A precrash mitigation system worth pursuing

Larry Banman / Without a Doubt
Kremmling, Colorado

We have entered a new phase of automobile safety features. I realize that from the seat of my 1967 Chevy pickup or even my 1994 Buick LeSabre that I am likely to be a bit out of touch with the latest in technology.

I have a passing knowledge of features like anti-lock brakes, side air bags, subscription based communications, in-vehicle security and diagnostics systems, but a recent commercial brought something new to my attention ” pre-crash mitigation systems. According to the commercial, an auto can now “sense” when a crash is imminent.

A curious mind can’t help but wonder how an automobile senses these things. Does the steering wheel sense the tightening of a grip on its frame? Does the automobile respond to the voice of a spouse yelling at the spousette to slow down or is there a pressure plate under the passenger-side floor mat that can feel the foot of a passenger pawing frantically for a brake peddle? If the vehicle is owned by a good-ole boy, does it sense trouble when the driver suddenly yells, “Hey, Bubba, watch this.”?



A little research shows that that the systems are a bit more sophisticated. Cameras, radar and lasers can be used to monitor oncoming traffic. The sensors also receive input from driver actions like sudden braking, intense braking pressure and quick movements. The new sensors can even tell when something called the yaw rate is out of whack. (If you have a working knowledge of physics you, of course, know the measurement of the yaw rate is based on the Coriolis effect and that makes perfect sense. For the rest of us, we are going to have to take that one on faith).

It is my understanding that the new precrash mitigation systems include actions like brake assistance and audible warnings. My immediate reaction to that concept is, “That’s all I need, one more person yelling constructive criticism at me while I’m trying to drive.”



At any rate, I have no doubt that this latest phase of safety features will save lives. It probably won’t be mine because I won’t be able to afford a vehicle that has precrash mitigation systems. By the time I finally get one of those vehicles, the technology will be so advanced that the other vehicles will “sense” that they shouldn’t be on the same roadway with me and they will be on their own exclusive, subscription-based highways.

Not to belittle the intent of safety features but, if vehicles are going to start “sensing” things for its drivers, I can’t help but wonder if there aren’t some very practical applications for our new generation of sentient automobiles.

For example, wouldn’t it be nice to have an automobile sense other forms of danger. For example, I would like a car to be able to sense when I am going to put my foot in my mouth. Its precash mitigation system could suddenly help change the subject by playing a snappy tune on the radio or, in extreme cases, blurt out a fake news or weather alert.

Personally, I would like my precrash mitigation system to make an announcement that (place name of store here) has just announced an outbreak of malaria at (place location of said store here) at the very instant my wife and I drive up to (place name of aforementioned store here). That would be a very practical use of a precrash mitigation system, in my opinion.

We already have the technology that gives us directions while we drive. Voices from no discernible source tell us when to turn and, if we miss our turn, how to fix our most recent driving error. My personal favorite is the mechanical voice that sounds slightly perturbed that it has to recalculate the driving instructions. There is something reassuring about knowing that I can even exasperate a computer.

Directions while I drive aren’t something I really need. My family can attest to the fact that I have never been lost. I have traveled many alternative routes, but lost I have never been. As long as the sun rises in the east and Polaris shines at night in the north, I will eventually find my destination.

What I need are directions in other aspects of life. When I drive up to a gymnasium just prior to a game in which I am coaching, I want my car to tell me if I should use a zone or a man-to-man defense that night. When I drive to the poll on Nov. 4, I want my car to let me know which candidate is the best choice. And, when I drive up to the house each night, I want my car to tell me if I should have remembered to pick up milk or if this would be a good night to surprise my wife with flowers.

Talk about your precrash mitigation systems and correcting your yaw rate.


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