PH BLOG: BLIND FAITH
Can you really trust the black boxes?
Having recovered the black boxes the full truth of what happened makes fascinating - and horrifying - reading. Especially if you ever worry about how much control we hand over to the machines.
And there's a danger cars are going the same way too. Take the E63 AMG test car we've just handed back for example. Though it seems utterly counter intuitive you can cruise in stop-start traffic with your feet off the pedals under radar automatic pilot that'll even bring you to a halt when the car in front stops. Brush the throttle and it'll move off again, maintaining an electronically metered distance whatever the speed. These systems have been round a while but we're breeding a generation of drivers who, eventually, might never have had to make these kind of decisions themselves. As Riggers has reported this week, a new patent marks the next step to cars that can drive themselves. But if, as in Flight 447, the computers go a bit screwy where does that leave them?
When they work these systems are incredible and mean a 500hp-plus rear-drive estate car with an aggressive limited-slip differential like the E63 is viable family transport even in the weather we've been having the last few days. A few years back that would have been considered ludicrous but now we take it for granted. And the E63 is a wonderful thing. But as Flight 447 proves it's sometimes worth trusting your instincts, as well as the black boxes.