I was fascinated to learn that Volvo wants to make cars that can effectively spy on their drivers, psychoanalyse what he or she is like and then alter its mechanical performance accordingly.
Reading the official bumpf it is all very helpful because "this will enable the driver to be able to rely a bit more on their car, and know that it will help them when needed," explained Per Landfors, engineer at Volvo Cars and project leader for driver support functions.
By placing a sensor on the dashboard to monitor aspects such as in which direction the driver is looking, how open their eyes are, as well as their head position and angle, it is possible to develop precise safety systems that detect the driver's state and are able to adjust the car accordingly. This also means that the car will ensure that it does not stray out of the lane or get too close to the car in front when the driver is not paying attention, as well as being able to wake a driver who is falling asleep.
It all seems rather sinister to me. Good drivers get to know and understand their vehicles. The fact that in order to engage third it is a good idea to wiggle the stick a little, or that certain road surfaces induce a steering wobble that has to be endured for 30 seconds before it goes away.
Yes driving has become far too easy and a vehicle that makes allowances for your stupidity should not be a direction we are heading in. I don’t agree that there should be spikes, or at least a classic Mini steering column pointing at your chest to concentrate the mind on the driving task in hand. I don’t think that phones, music, conversations, or even eating on the move should be banned, either. Distractions probably, but I trust the majority of decent drivers to judge just when to take a crafty swig of water.
What I don’t think we need is cars thinking they are cleverer than us. Even if they are.
So which part of car tech is a waste of space as far as you are concerned? ABS, traction control, lane changing beeps? And is the fact that cars are easier to drive a good or bad thing?