Showing posts with label cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cars. Show all posts

Friday 13 March 2015

Jeremy Clarkson just wants out!

Top Gear in deep water
Top Gear - All at sea

There is one man caught up in the middle of  all of the present Top Gear harangue, a man who has invested almost his entire career in the show, one man, who without Top Gear will have to face a fundamental re-evaluation of his next steps. Jeremy Clarkson, the Marmite man, loved and loathed in equal measure. The man who may have the most to lose if BBC axe him from their schedules. So why have his politically incorrect bollock-ups become more frequent and more abrasive. Simple fact is, according to an ex-member of the Top Gear team, Ian Morris, he may just have gotten bored.

There are few who have not found themselves at the wrong end of his tongue from Marina owners (the car, that is) to suicides, From Mexicans to Asians. Yet there is something that keeps him at the top of his game. Jack Whitehall, while on the 'Star in a reasonably priced car' feature once described Clarkson as the coolest dad at his school. Clarkson is a guilty pleasure who, in many ways, like Nigel Farage voices the unvoiceable. We may not agree with what he says but sometimes we are a little smug that they've been said, while still reserving our moral superiority. 

Jeremy Clarkson says Bollocks
Is this Clarkson?
Clarkson is a cheeky schoolboy in jeans and a sports coat. His grey hair and beer-girth simply cushion the impudent child. The Viz character in real. And, if you buy that then the rest falls into place. Clarkson is bored. He has been actively trying to get out of his contract for sometime now and the BBC have not been able to bring themselves to do it. His transgressions have become more and more frequent and maybe he knows deep down that the time has come to change gear. 

Many were surprised when he sold his shares in the franchise some years ago but that may have been the first pointer to the recent acceleration in his scandal-baiting behaviour. He knows that his presence is already a majority share in the show. The show's worldwide reworks including USA, Australia and Korea have not captured audiences like Clarkson in the British version and Russia's attempt was cancelled due to woeful viewing figures. He is the show and despite rumours of high-profile replacements like Chris Evans, nobody is under any illusion that he could be replaced

With contracts up for renewal at the end of this month, I think that it is time to let him go or we will see more petulant behaviour from a man who simply needs a change. What he would do with that freedom is anyone's guess but I can't see him straying too far from the path he has beaten. Who knows, maybe he'll surprise us all, I'm sure that's what he wants.   

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Monday 9 March 2015

Driverless cars: Who pays when people get killed?

Cute until it bites

The motoring industry is in a frenzy at the moment and for once it is not driven by the Top Gear crowd’s appetite for hypercars and horsepower. The car is on the tipping point of a new era that will put motoring one step closer to the imaginings of science fiction. The driverless car will soon be with us and with it comes the promise of freedom, comfort and safety. But anyone who has relied on technology, whether it be trusting their files to a cloud server or taking directions from navigator systems will know that tech will eventually let you down and when that happens people will get  hurt. And when that happens who will take responsibility.

Human error accounts for more than 80% of road traffic accidents and while this may depend on where you live or your age or social status the fact remains we are the cause of most injuries, deaths and material damage on our roads. According to WHO’s 2013 figures, around 1.24 million people die each year as a result of road traffic accidents.
Key facts
  • About 1.24 million people die each year as a result of road traffic crashes.
  • Road traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people, aged 15–29 years.
  • 91% of the world's fatalities on the roads occur in low-income and middle-income countries, even though these countries have approximately half of the world's vehicles.
  • Half of those dying on the world’s roads are “vulnerable road users”: pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.
  • Without action, road traffic crashes are predicted to result in the deaths of around 1.9 million people annually by 2020.

So the reasoning is perfectly simple, remove us from the equation and we have safer roads for everyone. Removing key factors contributing to road deaths and injuries.

Around 400 people a year are killed in crashes in which someone exceeds the speed limit or drives too fast for the conditions.

Drink Driving
Around 280 people die a year in crashes in which someone was over the legal drink drive limit.

Seat Belt Wearing
Around 300 lives each year could be saved if everyone always wore their seat belt.

Careless Driving
Around 300 deaths a year involve someone being "careless, reckless or in a hurry", and a further 125 involve "aggressive driving".

Around one third of fatal and serious road crashes involve someone who was at work.

More than 400 people are killed in crashes involving young car drivers aged 17 to 24 years, every year, including over 150 young drivers, 90 passengers and more than 170 other road users.

Failed to Look Properly
40% of road crashes involve someone who 'failed to look properly'.

Loss of Control
One third of fatal crashes involved 'loss of control' of a vehicle.

Failed to Judge Other Person's Path/Speed
One in five crashes involve a road user failing to judge another person's path or speed.
Above figures are from ROSPA so regard accidents in UK with a population around 64 million with one of the best road safety records in the world but are still representative of the major areas of human error. The implied promise of this technology is that by removing these factors thousands of lives will be saved, not to mention the millions in costs to the health service and material damages that are incurred in every shunt. But despite its almost qualified God complex, Google is fallible and fails us on a regular basis. When this happens and it will, will they be culpable for the loss of life, injury of damage.

A point raised by Jeremy Clarkson, only half-jokingly, on BBC’s Top Gear recently was that in the face of a complex ethical decision like which way to swerve, onto a mother with a pram or a to certain injury or death of the occupant. which will the computer choose. A human driver may succumb to instinct and err on side of self-preservation but the decision is made by an individual with accountability. The point is that there is a responsible party who could be judged culpable and face the consequences. When the same happens in car controlled by its internet connection.

Much has already been made of the privacy element of driverless cars. Google already knows more about us than our Mums they will now have the ability to track our movements in the real world. 

The question is, are legislators ready to hold them accountable when things go wrong? 

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From Under Dark Clouds

The Century of DIY