A few weeks ago I found myself ranting about the increasingly reliability we place on electronic gadgets when driving. So I was quite chuffed (it’s a Cornish phrase for those who don’t know!) when I read a recent press release from ‘ABD’, the Association of British Drivers, regarding the introduction of ISA (Intelligent Speed Adaptation). The ABD reckons that the scheme should be re-named as USELESS (Unintelligent Speed Engineering Lowering Existing Safety Standards).
The ISA system being planned by the government to control the speed of vehicles has just two inputs - the speed of the vehicle and the posted speed limit, which it looks up from the location given by a sat nav system, and matches one to the other. But we need an ISA system which as well as having an input of the vehicle’s speed, has visual inputs so it can determine whether that speed is appropriate given the traffic pattern and likely actions of other road users.
As well as control of the throttle and brakes, the ISA system should have control of the steering and ancillary controls. It should have an instinct for survival and self-preservation, as well as a strong desire not to cause damage to other such systems or to vehicles fitted with them.
Woah! We already have this system. It’s called a human being. All of us who drive have visual inputs, most have audio inputs, we have motion sensors, huge stores of learned and pre-programmed data, and organic computer systems so powerful they’ve taken millions of years to design. We also have a huge survival instinct which causes us to keep to a speed where risk of damage is minimised.
Why don’t we just leave control of vehicles to real ISA systems – the drivers?