Feeds

'Big Brother' - the price of self-driving cars

Privacy concerns forbid in-car beer, movies, snoozing

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

That's all fine - but where the hell is my self-driving car?

And it's worth noting that the only real difficulty in building cars able to drive themselves is that of letting the autodrive system know about other vehicles in a way it can understand. The ability of the human brain to use 2D video for this requires far too much processing power to be viable here: so an alternative such as laser radar mapping droidvision or CVIS is required. Apart from that missing capability, optionally self-driving cars - and indeed 600-tonne godzilla lorries - have already been built.

CVIS, in other words, would be a significant step towards a working robo-chauffeur car which would drive itself and let the user enjoy a beer, a read or a restful nap - or do some work - as it did so.

That would take a while, of course, and would also - as the CVIS people freely admit - require that the kit be universal and compulsory. Nobody is planning to introduce any such rules in the near future, though the DfT are very keen to get stuck in on the congestion-busting toll lane and adjustable speed limit parts of their "managed motorway" plans. The vulnerability of existing numberplate-scan systems to fraud and spoofing is well known - though it's not clear that CVIS would be that much harder to beat.

The privacy implications of the system are clear, of course. Police or other authorities with access would be able to look up details of any journey taken by any vehicle, and track them in real time too - even better than they already can using the TfL enforcement numberplate cams, and the many others on the UK highways.

Equally clear is that universal CVIS would offer useful safety and convenience benefits right off, and potentially move forward one day into the realm of auto-chauffeur cars: which will never be feasible without some such infrastructure, but would be a lot safer and offer much better point-to-point times than human drivers can, if built.

Ultimately then, there's a price to be paid in terms of road deaths, traffic jams and economic strangulation for privacy above a certain level. The question is whether that price is worth paying - it might not be all that big. (Always remembering that if you really wanted to keep a journey off the books you could still take a minicab and pay in cash, use public transport and wear a hoodie to beat the CCTV face trackers - which don't work anyway - hitchhike, etc etc.)

Like all technology since stone tools, CVIS can be used for good or bad - or not used at all if that's what people want.

So far, so ordinary. Just another tech debate.

What's a mild puzzler here is how the Brussels chaps handing out some documents in an attempt to have an open discussion got turned into the headline "Big Brother is watching: surveillance box to track drivers is backed". In fact it's fairly hard to see how it even made the national news.

Looks as though it's not just the government who can play naughty games in an argument of this sort. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Just don't blame Bono! Apple iTunes music sales PLUMMET
Cupertino revenue hit by cheapo downloads, says report
US court SHUTS DOWN 'scammers posing as Microsoft, Facebook support staff'
Netizens allegedly duped into paying for bogus tech advice
Feds seek potential 'second Snowden' gov doc leaker – report
Hang on, Ed wasn't here when we compiled THIS document
Verizon bankrolls tech news site, bans tech's biggest stories
No agenda here. Just don't ever mention Net neutrality or spying, ok?
Inside the EYE of the TORnado: From Navy spooks to Silk Road
It's hard enough to peel the onion, are you hard enough to eat the core?
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.