BBC Top Gear South Africa – July 2019
English | 101 pages | pdf | 51.51 MB

You have heard dozens of credible reasons why autonomous cars will transform the world into a better place. Safety, primarily. But we only seem to talk about the safety of drivers and pedestrians but many of us have furry critters we regard as family – loved enough to dress them in knitted sweaters when we worry their layer of fur is not adequate for our winters. They share our bed, bring us gifts from the garden, welcome us home and protect us. In turn we need to protect them from our cars.
Car makers like Volvo have started to do this with a system called Large Animal Detection but as the name categorically implies, this is mostly set up for reindeer and I’m yet to come across one of those on my way home, or even something resembling the size of a buffalo. We need detection systems for cats and dogs. If we can reduce the fatality rate of people, we should be building autonomous cars that do the same for our pets. Emergency brake systems are fairly ubiquitous in modern cars but if you’ve ever used them you’ll agree that they only seem to work when the object ahead is larger and heavier than the one you’re travelling in.
I propose an autonomous system that will hoot if it detects an animal ahead – thus scaring it, or the driver into action. Perhaps the hooter could be replaced with a viscous bark? If we got really clever we could combine our autonomous car’s navigation system with those microchips embedded in our pets. Just imagine a road network of autonomous cars that knows the precise location of each pet in the area, and will take avoiding action when one accidentally crosses the road. Of course these will all need some refinement but then I’m yet to encounter any autonomous system that works without sudden error, or isn’t a minor nuisance to other road users. Isn’t it about time that car manufacturers used this technology to reduce more than one death toll on our roads?
RIP Ninja. We’ll miss your paw prints around the TGSA Garage – Andrew Leopold

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