Self-driving cars and technology solutionism?

In a recent Wired post, Aarian Marshall makes the point that there are several ways of accomplishing the goal of making roadways safer for the people in them.  Many jurisdictions have adopted "vision zero" plans to reduce traffic injuries.  That is, they aspire to reducing traffic fatalities to none through various safety measures.

Bike battles by James Longhurst

In a recent post about telegraph delivery boys, I noted that their employers were reluctant to take responsibility for collisions between them and pedestrians.  This, and many other points about the history of cycling on the roadways of the United States are related in "Bike battles" by James Longhurst of the University of Wisconsin.

Automotive safety standards

William Gibson, the Canadian science-fiction writer, once said:

The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed.

Cars, bikes, and safety technology

The Internet sometimes provides interesting pairs of news items.  Today's pair concerns an intersection between mobility, safety, and technology.

Machine readable bikes

I was interested to see in Ben Coxworth's brief piece in New Atlas an item about a gadget designed to make bicycles more visible to radar-equipped cars

The "Shield TL" is a kind of souped-up rear light that can be attached to a bicycle.  Besides the usual blinking red light, the Shield TL has a baffle shaped to create a large reflection when struck by radar of the type used by driving assist technology in high-end vehicles. 

Will Volvo's sensitive bus be safer?

A short item in New Atlas describes a new bus prototype from Swedish automotive giant Volvo.  The new bus is equipped with a system called the Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection System (PCDS). 

The PCDS combines cameras attached to the bus with a program that anticipates danger to cyclists, pedestrians, and other mobile "obstacles" to bus travel.  When a collision appears possible, the bus makes a noise to warn the pedestrian, etc.  The horn is used if the risk is deemed to be very high.

The machine readable roadway

The death of Johsua Brown in a collision between his Tesla and a big rig has led to some reflections on automation and trust.  However, it also raises issues about in what ways our world is, or should be, readable by machines.

Should your robot car kill you?

The arrival of self-driving cars poses many society-technology challenges.  For example, since self-driving cars do not possess deep-seated instincts for self-preservation, they could be programmed to react in almost any way in the event of a collision.  

Intelligent bike helmets

Innovation is a hallmark of good design that we discuss in our STV 202 class.  According to noted designer Dieter Rams, it is important to distinguish between true innovation and mere novelty.  True innovation improves the essential function of a design in a given category.  Novelty is change for some other purpose, such as artistic expression or gimmickery.

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