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OPINION


Room for improvement


There are many things that will always be just fine as they are. Human beings driving vehicles is not one of them, but the shift to autonomy must be carefully managed, insists David Pickeral


I


have made coffee exactly the same way since I was at university 30 years ago and have used the same drip coffee maker


and hand grinder I bought at the Long Beach Navy exchange store in 1989. I fresh grind whole Canadian roasted beans from Tim Horton’s for each pot and brew with filtered water and an unbleached paper filter for a perfect cup each and every time, no packets, pods or canisters needed. Similarly I have no need for a robotic canine; as virtually any dog or other pet owner in the world will attest, the tasks of feeding, grooming, walking and caring for him or her (not “it”) is both a labour of love and integral and inseparable to the activity of having a live animal companion in the first place. Likewise, any number of things including but not limited to Tillam- ook cheese, Crater Lake, Powell’s Books and the word ‘Clackamas’ are not wanting for any improvements.


4 Such cannot be said for the millennia-


old experience of driving. Once a slow, dangerous, expensive, uncomfortable and inhumane mode of travel the process was improved at the end of the 19th century by introducing machinery to do the task much more efficiently and in the absence of pain, suffering or any other feelings (stressing the comment above about animals vs robots). However, that improvement came and con- tinues to come at a tremendous cost. Inevitably the often cherished experience


driving as many of us have known it (remem- ber the ‘Fahrvergnügen’ commercials from 25 years ago?) will – indeed must – steadily, incrementally become obsolete. In so doing will be replaced by a much safer, sustainable and accessible standard of mobility benefit- ting the disabled, elderly, economically dis- advantaged – not to mention pedestrians, cyclists and, essentially, everyone. But as with


every disruption in transportation history, the change will by necessity be incremental and there are imminent potential hazards in going about things the wrong way and risk- ing expensive “do overs” or still worse the loss of investor, public and regulatory confi- dence not necessarily in that order.


RUNNING (OVER) THE NUMBERS From the Model T, to the Trabant 601 to, still, the vast majority the brand new vehi- cles sold through dealerships (or otherwise) around the world yesterday afternoon vehicles have had one thing in common through their inability to compensate for hazards encountered enroute. As of 2015 the World Health Organization reported that reliably motor vehicles were now kill- ing one and a quarter million people each year on Earth – this inclusive of those driv- ing, riding in or caught in the path of them.


www.thinkinghighways.com


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