Now that I’ve got the undivided attention of both the pro- and the anti-electric cars crowds, let’s get cooking.
I grew up in the small town of Notodden. As a kid, you normally ended up in one of three crowds: The petrolheads, the jocks, or the nerds. As a flimsy boy scout who played a lot of computer and role-playing games, it’s pretty obvious that I was quickly labeled a nerd. I had a few jock friends, but the petrolheads never really appealed to me in any way, shape or form. It’s a very prominent group of people in my home town, though, and the sub-culture most Norwegians associate with it. Not surprising, since they staged a damn riot back in 2007 when a section of the road they drive back and forth on was closed down. Documentary crews have also visited Notodden in numbers to poke their investigative sticks at the phenomenon.
When I left the city at the age of 18 to do my year of mandatory military service, I lost all touch with the petrolheads. But when I re-joined Facebook in 2016, I got another look at what was going on in that alternate universe. They share all kinds of – what’s the best way of put this – interesting stories. It’s often political material that doesn’t sit too well with my world view, and everything they come across that put their number one enemy, the electric car, in a bad light. Some of the articles are, interestingly enough, shared by my junior high science teacher.
One of the articles was a five year old interview with one Paul Rosenquist. I’ve never heard of him before I read the interview, but I assume most petrolheads know who he is. And old man Rosenquist certainly doesn’t like electric cars.
Paul Rosenquist. Photo: YouTube screen capture (https://youtu.be/R99kJfMPeWI).
Google shows its true colors, and removes “don’t be evil” from the code of conduct. It’s time to dump Google.
For years, Google’s been the good guys of the internet. They’ve provided great services without showing a single stick up their customers collective asses. But when they decided to go to bed with the Pentagon war machine, those of us with an ethical backbone started to feel a tiny tingle in the pooper. I covered the utterly moronic decision in the post You Might Be Helping Pentagon Train Killer Dones back in March.
Even Google’s own employees thought playing with Pentagon was a bad idea, and several thousand of them petitioned the company to end the so called Project Maven. About a dozen employees even quit the company in the wake of information about the project surfacing. But that’s a tiny drop in the vast ocean that is Google. With its 85,000 employees, a dozen resignations don’t make a difference.
Since I wrote the thunderous entry, there has been some progress in Uber’s own investigation of the deadly March 18 crash. On May 7, The Information broke an exclusive story explaining what probably happened.
The Volvo XC90’s sensors detected 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg as she crossed the road, but the software decided it was a false positive. A “false positive” is a false alarm, i.e. the software decided that the sensors had detected something that could be ignored. As a result of that, the vehicle didn’t take evasive action, and Herzberg was hit by the car.
For the second time in under two months, one of those deadly self-driving vehicles has been involved in a crash in Arizona.
On March 18, a female bicyclist was killed when she crossed the road in Tempe, Arizona. A self-driving car from Uber failed to avoid her, and she was struck by the vehicle. I covered this incident in the post Self-Driving Cars Must Be Banned Now!. A week ago, on May 4, another self-driving car was involved in a car crash in Arizona. This time, the incident happened in Chandler, and the autonomous car was not operated by Uber, but by Waymo.
Three cars were involved in the Chandler incident. The driver of the first car jumped a red light, and had to swerve to avoid the second car, which was moving into the intersection on a green light. That maneuver propelled it in to the oncoming lane, where it hit the third car, a self-driving van from Waymo. Here’s a video released by the company, showing how the incident was captured by the cameras attached to the Waymo.
People have gotten themselves killed by Tesla autopilot for quite some time. The first known fatal incident happened in 2016, when a Tesla Model S with the autopilot engaged slammed into a 18-wheel tractor-trailer. The autopilot didn’t notice the white side of the crossing tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, and the brakes were never engaged. The Tesla went so fast the roof of the car was cut off, and the vehicle didn’t come to a stop until it snapped a telephone pole a quarter-mile down the road. The driver in this particular accident was watching a Harry Potter DVD while driving.
Now self-driving cars have taken it to the next level, and are killing not only their drivers, but also unsuspecting pedestrians. On March 18, a woman crossing the road with her bicycle in Tempe, Arizona, was struck by a self-driving car operated by Uber. She was taken to the hospital, where she later died from her injuries.
Uber has naturally pulled all their self-driving cars off the road after the accident. Not surprisingly, many people are now calling for all autonomous vehicles to be removed from public roads until the cause of the Uber crash has been found. Other’s are demanding that the whole idea of a self-driving car being banned and buried.
Crying out for a ban is often the knee-jerk reaction when something new and scary goes awry. But it’s not necessarily the rational thing to do.