Dangerous safety system?

Technology in driving is becoming more dominant...
Matt1962
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Dangerous safety system?

Postby Matt1962 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:10 pm

My car (Skoda Kodiaq) terrified me last night. On a winding narrow road, in a 20mph zone, the car did a full-on emergency stop with absolutely no warning. The dashboard showed that the 'front assist' was responsible. After recovering and driving off I was wracking my brain to try to think what the cause might have been, and came to the conclusion that the car had 'noticed' a delivery driver walking into the road to get into his vehicle (obvious to me) and somehow 'interpreted' this as someone about to walk in front of the vehicle.

This raises a number of questions:

1. If there had been a following car, it would almost certainly have hit me (yes, I know what people will say but we live in the real world). The driver would be aggrieved (to say the least) at having to take full responsibility for this. Does the car manufacturer have any (legal or other) responsibility here?
2. Is there anything I could have done? Switching the system off might raise other potential pitfalls...
3. What would happen if the car reacted in the same way on an icy road and/or halfway around a bend?

In my 8 months or so of ownership the system has activated twice (a lamp post in a Supermarket car park and a clump of thistles on a farm track) at very low speed, so I had assumed the actual braking was just a parking aid - but from the handbook it looks as if it could activate at up to 65Km/h!

Does anyone else have any experiences/thoughts?

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jont-
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Re: Dangerous safety system?

Postby jont- » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:24 pm

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/abu-dha ... ish-crash/

I suspect manufacturers don't have any readily available way of being contacted with this sort of false positive. It's marginally possible that the vehicle itself has logged something which will eventually be uploaded by the dealer next time it's serviced, but I'm sceptical.

Regarding 1 - I don't think it matters how hard you brake, if the car behind runs into you, they're going to have a hard time defending it.

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Strangely Brown
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Re: Dangerous safety system?

Postby Strangely Brown » Fri Feb 23, 2018 2:59 pm

jont- wrote:Regarding 1 - I don't think it matters how hard you brake, if the car behind runs into you, they're going to have a hard time defending it.


I suspect that it could be argued that if the driver in front has no reason to brake but does so anyway then the driver behind would have a defence. Isn't that how "crash for cash" scams work? How would you feel if you could see an overtake developing and were closing up to a contact position prior to moving out when the car in front braked full on, for no reason? Wouldn't you feel aggrieved?

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akirk
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Re: Dangerous safety system?

Postby akirk » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:03 pm

Thoughts (which may or may not be helpful!)
- There is increasingly a gap between a car's technology and the driver's understanding of how it will work - perhaps we need to get into more of a habit of understanding how it will work... and not assuming we understand (e.g. assuming the speed at which it will operate)
- different cars will implement systems differently, so another reason to understand how it works in the car we are driving...
- the driver ultimately still has responsibility for what the car does - this is no different to a driver allowing an autonomous function in a Tesla to crash the car! The car manufacturer would have no liability for this - it is no doubt a documented system - up to the driver to understand it and take responsibility for how they drive
- it demonstrates that autonomous functions are still pretty poor in their implementation - and the discrepancy between marketing and reality - the assumptions made by a coder are a long way from the variations we will see in reality...
- it perhaps shows that if there could be an issue were it to take place on an icy road / halfway around a bend, then maybe the driver is going too fast - after all the car will be stopping no faster than an emergency stop...
- it also shows (in my personal view) why a good driver is far better than tech. like this... and explains a part of the reason why I drive older cars - I have no desire to own a car where it (or the inadequate coders who write the system) make decisions like this...

Alasdair

Matt1962
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Re: Dangerous safety system?

Postby Matt1962 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:36 pm

akirk wrote:Thoughts (which may or may not be helpful!)
- There is increasingly a gap between a car's technology and the driver's understanding of how it will work - perhaps we need to get into more of a habit of understanding how it will work... and not assuming we understand (e.g. assuming the speed at which it will operate)
- different cars will implement systems differently, so another reason to understand how it works in the car we are driving...
- the driver ultimately still has responsibility for what the car does - this is no different to a driver allowing an autonomous function in a Tesla to crash the car! The car manufacturer would have no liability for this - it is no doubt a documented system - up to the driver to understand it and take responsibility for how they drive
- it demonstrates that autonomous functions are still pretty poor in their implementation - and the discrepancy between marketing and reality - the assumptions made by a coder are a long way from the variations we will see in reality...
- it perhaps shows that if there could be an issue were it to take place on an icy road / halfway around a bend, then maybe the driver is going too fast - after all the car will be stopping no faster than an emergency stop...
- it also shows (in my personal view) why a good driver is far better than tech. like this... and explains a part of the reason why I drive older cars - I have no desire to own a car where it (or the inadequate coders who write the system) make decisions like this...

Alasdair


All good points. A further look at the manual (it is far from easy reading and not always obvious which systems apply to which models....) suggests that an emergency stop without warning is limited to 45km/h, so I think an incident of this sort would not be so likely outside of a 20 zone (as this speed in any other situation would probably mean that driver inputs would already be taking place and would override the system).

I'm not sure about the icy road/bend scenario? You could be driving quite safely at below 45km/h with good visibility etc. in the knowledge that an emergency stop would be inadvisable/hazardous. The car might not know this...Although I suppose ABS etc. might limit the consequences.

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Horse
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Re: Dangerous safety system?

Postby Horse » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:45 pm

Strangely Brown wrote:I suspect that it could be argued that if the driver in front has no reason to brake but does so anyway then the driver behind would have a defence. Isn't that how "crash for cash" scams work?


Typically they work by the driver of the 'scam' car deliberately braking in front of the innocent party's car - sometimes by moving across closely in front (eg into a safe following distance). Your best defence here is a dashcam.

Strangely Brown wrote: How would you feel if you could see an overtake developing and were closing up to a contact position prior to moving out when the car in front braked full on, for no reason? Wouldn't you feel aggrieved?


You might feel aggrieved, but tough. You chose to reduce to an unsafe following distance. It must have been unsafe if you couldn't stop! It could well be argued that your standard of driving (ie 'advanced') should be above that of the average driver, not below. Also, I seem to recall a thread on here (or AD) about attendance at a police driving school (or someone sitting in on a course), which said that the 'contact' position had gone out of favour?

The driver ahead doesn't have to give any warning other than brake lights. Your only defence here could be if you were able to prove that driver was driving w/o due care.
My own views. For better or worse :)

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Horse
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Re: Dangerous safety system?

Postby Horse » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:47 pm

Matt1962 wrote: . . . the icy road/bend scenario? You could be driving quite safely at below 45km/h with good visibility etc. in the knowledge that an emergency stop would be inadvisable/hazardous


Go on then, I'm having a hard of thinking day, please explain that paradox :)
My own views. For better or worse :)

Matt1962
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Re: Dangerous safety system?

Postby Matt1962 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 3:49 pm

Strangely Brown wrote:
jont- wrote:Regarding 1 - I don't think it matters how hard you brake, if the car behind runs into you, they're going to have a hard time defending it.


I suspect that it could be argued that if the driver in front has no reason to brake but does so anyway then the driver behind would have a defence. Isn't that how "crash for cash" scams work? How would you feel if you could see an overtake developing and were closing up to a contact position prior to moving out when the car in front braked full on, for no reason? Wouldn't you feel aggrieved?


Yes - it's a bit hard to imagine that those idiots you see on YouTube 'brake testing' lorries would be deemed completely innocent of any consequences. So what about an autonymous system effectively doing the same thing?

Matt1962
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Re: Dangerous safety system?

Postby Matt1962 » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:03 pm

Horse wrote:
Matt1962 wrote: . . . the icy road/bend scenario? You could be driving quite safely at below 45km/h with good visibility etc. in the knowledge that an emergency stop would be inadvisable/hazardous


Go on then, I'm having a hard of thinking day, please explain that paradox :)


The immediate thought that came to mind was of a group of us who foolishly went out on road bicycles on a frosty morning a few weeks ago. On some roads any application of the brakes meant an immediate 'off' (experienced by a couple of us a good few miles from home). We rode accordingly.....but random autonomous braking would have been less than welcome.

This also translates well to my (long ago) motorcycling past - there are situations where you have to make every possible effort to avoid braking (particularly emergency braking) but you are not particularly unsafe otherwise (due to chosen speed heightened anticipation etc.). I don't see why this can't also apply in certain circumstances when driving a car?

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akirk
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Re: Dangerous safety system?

Postby akirk » Fri Feb 23, 2018 4:24 pm

Matt1962 wrote:
Horse wrote:
Matt1962 wrote: . . . the icy road/bend scenario? You could be driving quite safely at below 45km/h with good visibility etc. in the knowledge that an emergency stop would be inadvisable/hazardous


Go on then, I'm having a hard of thinking day, please explain that paradox :)


The immediate thought that came to mind was of a group of us who foolishly went out on road bicycles on a frosty morning a few weeks ago. On some roads any application of the brakes meant an immediate 'off' (experienced by a couple of us a good few miles from home). We rode accordingly.....but random autonomous braking would have been less than welcome.

This also translates well to my (long ago) motorcycling past - there are situations where you have to make every possible effort to avoid braking (particularly emergency braking) but you are not particularly unsafe otherwise (due to chosen speed heightened anticipation etc.). I don't see why this can't also apply in certain circumstances when driving a car?


In which case, in a car like this, you would also have to adapt your driving to allow for the fact that braking could be initiated by the car...
In your scenario - driver appears behind van, you don't need to brake as you can see / understand what the driver is planning to do - however, it could have been a child dashing across the road - so you have to allow for that possibility, so in icy conditions, I expect that you might have been driving slower... in which case, less issue in terms of the autonomous braking... if there would be a point alongside the van where a child could appear and it would be dangerously icy to apply autonomous braking, then equally it would dangerous to apply normal braking - so you would drive even slower...

Alasdair


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