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"It would work, if you can find alternatives to each of the steps involved in this process."
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Okay, here it is. Say you have a heart attack in your car. (or are otherwise incapacitated by, say, something hitting the windshield and obstructing your vision, etc.) The car would instantly react, using motion sensors on the side of the car to safely steer to the side of the road, stop, and put
on emergency lights and maybe even call 911. I would propose 2 versions in every car.; A button to push to activate it if the windshield situation is true, and perhaps weight sensors in the seat and wheel to sense if you are slumped over in a non-driving position for more than, say, 5 seconds, or a cardiac band on the wrist to measure pulse in the event of a heart attack. That would be a 911 situation. A version of this exists on today's remote control cars (if you program it) If it goes out of range, it automatically stops. This is similar to that. It might not be useful to most people, but it could save lives
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||Connect it to play your fatal auto collision song (you're dying anyway).
||In 1988 I was standing in the central section of a city bus in Jerusalem, and watched in horror as a new car (fancy green Opel) drove into the intersection, thru a red light, and crashed into the side of the bus.
Nothing seemed to have happened to the bus, while the car's engine cover went flying at the window we stood at. The window was covered against rock throwing, so it only shattered in place.
||Immediately someone on the bus yelled "Move aside please! Let me out! I am a doctor". A paramedic also on the bus joined him.
||It turned out, that the driver was having a heart attack and the crash saved his life !
||What is the "version that exists on
today's remote control cars"? I think
this is not a bad idea: automated
driving is not good enough to trust in
normal conditions, but might be good
enough to take over as a last resort.
||I can see two problems with this,
though. First, the activation of the
device is a problem: cardiac bands are
out of the question (nobody's going to
bother to put them on; and they detect
too specific a circumstance); slumping
would be hard to detect (and do people
"slump" when they're having a heart
attack?) - so you're left with a "panic
button", which would be OK.
||Second, there's the economics of it. If
you're starting with a regular car,
you've got to add a lot of gadgetry to
make this work, and it's going to cost a
lot. I think most people would not be
willing to pay a significant premium for
a safety device which will almost
certainly never be used. Even airbags
didn't really catch on until their cost
was low and they weren't itemized as a
||You need a "dead-man's switch", maybe on the steering wheel or for the left foot, or both. Releasing the switch(es) activates the auto stop feature.
||//Releasing the switch(es) activates the
auto stop feature.// Absolutely not.
Which is more likely: that you have a
heart attack, or that you inadvertently
take your hand off the wheel for a
moment? The latter, by a large factor.
You can't afford to accidentally activate
a system which is going to take control
of your car, and which is intended only
for emergency situations - it would be
||Dead-man's switches on trains are a
much safer option: if they are
inadvertently activated, and the train
stops, it's very unlikely to cause an
||It seems likely that, if you were going to use the steering wheel solely to begin with, you'd have more than one switch on it.