Blog: Dave LeggettDriver assistance

Dave Leggett | 20 October 2005

I’ve been reading in AutoExpress that GM in Europe is planning to introduce a new driver assistance system on the 2008 Vectra – the headline is a suitably tabloidesque ‘Bold new Vectra to drive itself!’

“Set to debut soon after the family car's launch in 2008, it uses lasers, a video camera and huge computing power to read the road ahead, spot warning signs, lane markings, bends and, most crucially, other vehicles.

“The data is processed to control the engine, steering and brakes to keep the car a safe distance from the traffic. Flagship Vectras will get the system by the end of the decade. Rivals, including Honda, already have similar technology, although Vauxhall's Traffic Assist is thought to be the most ambitious set-up.”

GM jazzing up the Vectra with cutting edge tech so that it is no longer the butt of Jeremy Clarkson’s ‘most boring car in the world’ jibes? (But hang on a minute…that might not work and I can see him now: ‘Yes, the new Vectra is so utterly boring to drive....that GM’s thoughtful and rather clever engineers have finally taken the necessary steps.... so that you don’t have to!’)

It conjures up the image of the driver switching to autopilot, reclining his seat, stretching out, opening up his newspaper, pouring himself a cup of coffee – though I seriously doubt that driver responsibility will be so easily evaded. How far would you trust something like that? I suspect we’re talking about a system that makes cruise control on motorways a little more effortless, but once we start going down the path of letting a chip take away some of the driving there’s an envelope that people will want to push, I’m sure.

I feel my normally dormant Luddite tendencies coming out again. Anyone out there actually enjoy just being in a car with the easy tactile pleasures of driving the thing, maybe listening to the radio, unencumbered by e-mail and with the mobile phone actually switched off for a short period? 

Here’s an interesting feature (below link) on the subject of driver assistance written by Matthew Beecham:

Who’s driving?


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