Friday, 2 August 2013

Talk your way out of a jam!

It is a source of great concern to me that the Germans are already working on the next generation of cars which are going to “talk” to each other, see round corners and see through lorries.
For someone who can remember starting a Morris 1000 with a crank handle this is a worry. I remember headlight dip switches on the floor, adhesive heated rear windows, trafficators which popped out to say which way you were going and tyre chains. If you could read a number plate at the prescribed distance, avoid ploughing into too many pedestrians, do a three point turn in a space the size of a football pitch and recite the Highway Code you passed your test. Now the blasted car is going to talk to me? I don’t want one!
I have enough problems with a sat nav trying to chuck me in the river somewhere off the M6 without the car talking to me as well, I normally have sufficient coping with my wife. Vehicles equipped with "car-to-x" technology, should warn of hazards far beyond the vision of the driver including traffic jams further along a motorway or a vehicle making an emergency stop up ahead.
The organisation behind the technology is Frankfurt-based Safe Intelligent Mobility Testfield (Sim TD), a consortium of vehicle manufacturers with factories in Germany.
Mercedes Benz-maker Daimler is leading the project and BMW, Audi, Volkswagen, Ford and Opel are also involved.
They have already held the world's largest field test of car-to-car communication around Sim TD's home city: 500 drivers signed up to test the tech and clocked up a total of 1.7 million km (1.1 million miles).
Sim TD says you can expect to see the first talking cars on the road in 2015. That’s it for me. The first time any vehicle speaks to me I’m hanging up the keys and buying a bike. It’s ridiculous. Imagine you’re tootling down the High Street and suddenly the car announces that someone has done an emergency stop three miles away so be careful. Too much information.
And how are the ladies going to cope? It’s not so many years since the fairer sex were hanging their handbags on the choke handle, so what’s going to happen when the flipping dashboard starts talking?  I see trouble and consternation, and there’s worse to come. Audi is testing other mechanisms, including a vibrating steering wheel and force feedback pedals - a pedal which pushes back or vibrates when the driver tries to accelerate.
"That will get the driver's attention," says Robert Manz, an Audi developer. Oh it will Robert, I guarantee it. Why do we need a vibrating steering wheel? I have a picture of obeying my sat nav by taking the next left and suddenly the steering wheel vibrates and as I press the brake it presses back at me. I’m not going to be pleased and neither is the bus driver coming towards me as I career onto the other side of the road.
Interactive traffic signs and traffic lights equipped with sensors will also talk to each other and swap information with cars in the area. Oh will they? That’ll be fun, you’ve just pulled away on green and the traffic light leans forward and announces 3p a litre off at the local supermarket and, in fear, you lurch into the path of another oncoming vehicle which will now be able to shout pre-programmed obscenities at you, flash its own headlights and take a picture at the same time!
There will be tears before bedtime. I have arranged for machine guns to be fitted under my front bumper, an ejector seat and a wide screen TV where the windscreen used to be because it is obvious I will no longer have to look where I am going, the blasted car will do it for me.


And while we’re on the subject I had a chuckle at this story.
A man had to be rescued by a policeman after his head became wedged inside a traffic bollard for two hours.
The unfortunate chap was unable to free himself after putting the cone on his head while joking with friends in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.
John Waterman, who captured the incident on his mobile phone, said: "I came out of Burger King and this man had the bollard stuck on his head.
"I had seen him walking with it on top of his head five minutes earlier, but now it was pulled right down.
"No one was helping him because they thought he was just messing around."
Eventually, a police officer and passer-by managed to free the man, who was applauded by a crowd of onlookers. Did anyone think to ask him how his head got there in the first place?

Gathering winter fuel

At last the axe has fallen on winter fuel payments to expats sunning themselves in exile. It has long puzzled me why those basking in winter temperatures warmer than our summers can get the handout of up to £300 without question.
Now it beggars the question, will the thousands saved by this measure be handed out to deserving cases here at home? Silly of me to think that. Throw another log on the fire.

Senior moment!

An elderly armed robber failed to flee the scene - because he was too slow putting his walking frame into his getaway car.
The 64-year-old man robbed a woman at knifepoint in the car park of a shopping centre at Geelong, near Melbourne, Australia.
He aimed to steal her car - but was still trying to pack several bags and his walking frame into the vehicle when police arrived to arrest him.
Police say the man, from Queensland, had bought a knife from the shopping centre and approached the 22-year-old woman as she was about to leave the car park.
He held the knife to her throat and demanded she gave him the car. He drove a short distance before stopping to load up the car.
But by this time the woman had called police who arrived in time to make the arrest. The man has been charged with armed robbery.

Cool cat and dog

A cool cat and his shades-wearing canine friend have been turning heads on the streets of a Chinese city.
When shoppers see the odd couple, they might think the fussy feline is literally taking the dog for a ride.

But owner Xu Wan, from Kunming, Yunnan province, insists the pair really are the best of pedigree chums.
"When I started taking the dog for a walk the cat would mew as if it didn't want to be left at home," he explained.
"So I bought a small lead and brought the cat too.
"But the cat soon got tired of all that walking and very quickly worked out that it was easier to ride."
Now the pair turn heads as they join Xu, 64, for his daily trip to the shops.
"They love their walks and never fight," he said.

A load of rubbish

Some councils certainly fall under the category of mentally challenged. Our local boffins have decreed that before you can use the local recycling centre in future you have to take along proof of residency and you will be issued with your own disc to display in your windscreen.
Not content with having more recycling sections than you could ever possibly use they are now fussy in case some infiltrator might bring rubbish in from further afield.
Have they nothing better to do with their time than dream up this rubbish?