An old problem, still unsolved

We have traction control systems that prevent unwanted wheelspin. We have proximity sonar that warns us about surrounding objects. We have “smart stop” systems that cut the throttle when we press throttle and brake simultaneously. We have cameras that put eyes on the back of our heads. We have cross-traffic alerts that warn about things passing behind us when we’re backing up. We have blind spot monitors that tell us when a car is hiding beside us. We have stability systems that adjust throttle and brake to negate understeer and oversteer. We have adaptive cruise control systems that slow us down if we’re getting too close to other cars. We have lane-keep assist that prevents us from drifting on the highway. We have pre-collision systems that prepare us for impact.

So why can’t we prevent this?

Tesla crash TeslaMondoWhy can’t we combine some of the above technologies to detect an imminent crash and either apply the brakes, turn the wheel or both? There is no scenario in which we want to crash into anything, so overriding driver intent is no issue here. But for those who insist that driver intent remain sacrosanct, an override button could ensure happiness for all.

So-called “sudden unintended acceleration,” a conspicuously American problem in recent decades despite worldwide use of the same products, is probably as old as the horseless carriage itself. No, older than that. Horses are guilty as hell. The frustrating thing is, most SUA events happen at parking lot speeds during the pedal dance between throttle and brake. That means they are predominantly low-speed accidents. That means it wouldn’t take much to stop the car and save the day. Gentlemen, we have the technology. We have the capability to make the world’s first bionic car. Tesla Motors will build that car. Better than it was before. Better*. Stronger**. Faster***. And oops-proof, at least when it comes to the oldest oops in auto history.

 

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