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8 PCB007 MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2019 We've all heard the news stories about driv- ers taking "full" advantage of the conveniences offered by the current crop of semi-autonomous vehicles. We've seen the photos and the vid- eos of drivers reading or, even worse, sleeping while their car drives itself in freeway traffic. On the one hand, it's shocking that people would put so much trust in the system to keep them safe—some people close to me can't even sleep in a vehicle as a passenger, let alone as the driver. But on the other hand, I suppose we really shouldn't be surprised. Human ingenuity is driven by laziness, and much of the new, emerging tech - nologies enable that kind of creativity. Legend has it that Benjamin Frank- lin—American publisher, inventor, and statesman— once credited his inven- tions on a tendency to be "industriously lazy." And who among us hasn't, at some point in their life, extended the function of some pur- pose-built item or tool to solve a new, unan- ticipated problem? Surely, you've used a screw- driver as a chisel, for example. Or maybe you're one of those folks who has folded a post-it note folded into a catch basin and attached it below where you drill a hole in the wall to catch all of the wall dust? Mac users, you do know how to open a crown bottle cap with your wall plug, don't you? Give people a tool—and an unful - filled, unrelated need—and they'll figure out a way to fill their need with what they have. Yes, resourcefulness is at the center of the art of being "industriously lazy." But let's not forget that current self-driving features are in - tended to serve as driver assistance, not driver replacement. Ultimately, it is the human opera- tors who are expected and required to stay alert and on call to take over driving responsibilities whenever necessary. Still, I can hear some of you muttering, "If, when using driver assist, I have to stay as alert as if I were driving in the first place, then what is the value to that tech - nology?" And that's a val- id point. Consider, then, the "call my car" feature on some current autonomous vehi - cles. The concept is sim- ple: beep your car, and the autonomous driving features activate, maneu- vering your car to your location to pick you up. Think of this as a built-in valet for your car; it seems quite convenient. And it's easier to wrap one's head around than letting your car drive itself down the freeway at life-ending speeds. But there's a risk even in valet mode: pedes - trians. Imagine if every car in a mall parking lot could start moving by themselves without any operator present. The presence of a person in a vehicle provides the cue that we look for to as- sess the likelihood that a car near us could start moving. Take away that critical cue, and we could have a world where any car could start moving at any time. Parking lots could turn into a motion-based minefield. The liability is huge. In this world, who would send their child into the parking lot to retrieve something from the car under those circumstances? Accidents are inevitable, and who will stop the unattended car when it makes a mistake? Nolan's Notes by Nolan Johnson, I-CONNECT007 Asleep at the Wheel?

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