Unreliable Data Sensors

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 715809

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item Unreliable Data Sensors

  • Neil Burton

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 21942

    The Mark I mirror is a device where the phrase 'if it ain't broken, don't fix it' is extremely apt.  There are, essentially, no moving parts or complex electronics to go wrong.  It just works.  I can imagine it would be pretty unnerving to be doing 70 on the motorway and one second having a nice clear view of what's on your outside then the next, nothing.  At least you'd hopefully notice if somebody knocked a mirror off.  With cameras and screens there's so much more potential for failure that it seems to be 'progress' only for the sake of progress.


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    —Charles Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher

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  • kiwood

    Ten Centuries

    Points: 1062

    There are, essentially, no moving parts or complex electronics to go wrong.  It just works.

    I would suggest that you look a little closer. There are a hug number of broken mirrors out there. There are a huge number that are not adjusted to be useful to the driver.

    As for reliability, backup cameras have proven to be very reliable. I would be hard pressed to disagree more with the sentiment expressed so far. I suppose the same would have issues with autonomous vehicles in spite of their superior safety record. (Yes, I know someone was killed, but that happens EVERY day with human drivers.)

    The fact is that if cameras in place of mirrors scare you, you should stay off any commercial aircraft. There has been no mechanical connection between the cockpit and flight control surfaces in years. And a good part of the time that craft is flying, it is doing so autonomously. The autopilot does much more than fly along at a set engine speed and heading. It is adjusting engine speed, control surfaces and can even makes some changes in altitude and heading.

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 994647

    I like the idea of a backup camera but most of them seem to be poorly engineered.  At night, you can't actually see anything in the passenger side mirror or the rear view mirror when backing up because the non-dimmable display is too bright and yet the backup lights on the vehicle are a bit too dim and the Red from the brake-lights is kind of tough to perceive things through.

    There's also those auto-magic lines that supposed show what the track of the vehicle will be.  I heard a dealer tell his trainees that they're accurate.  They're not (especially up close/tight quarters).  I tested them (not the hard way :D) and the lines don't actually include about 18 inches of the rear bumper, which means you can hit the hell out of something.

    I do like the backup camera for hitching up a trailer (makes life REAL easy there) but, I agree with many of the others... if a camera or electronics fails or the lens gets dirty, you can't see with the cameras.  While I certainly appreciate the aerodynamic drag of mirrors and I appreciate other sensors (which can easily become useless in snow or muddy/salty conditions), as well, there's nothing quite like the Mark I Mod I eyeball.

    And, until they make a true heads-up display, I find the center console a total pain in the ass when it comes to such things.  Heh... I think it's ironic that my truck will sometimes display a message about how dangerous it is to look at the display for too long and then the damned thing requires a touch-screen response to get the console to go back to a normal operating condition.

    Debbie just bought a new car with laser/radar collision avoidance... I hope she does NOT learn to rely on it as so many have done because the sensors (especially the forward looking ones) are just too easy to be obfuscated by road crud and salt.

    --Jeff Moden


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  • jasona.work

    SSC-Forever

    Points: 49887

    Jeff Moden wrote:

    Debbie just bought a new car with laser/radar collision avoidance... I hope she does NOT learn to rely on it as so many have done because the sensors (especially the forward looking ones) are just too easy to be obfuscated by road crud and salt.

    My wife has a car with this sort of system and there've been times where it was raining hard enough for the system to pop up a notification in the instrument cluster about "collision avoidance disabled."  Now, granted, this was during the sort of driving, pounding rain where you're going to slow down 5-10 under the speed limit (or more,) but obviously that should indicate that these sort of systems shouldn't be relied on as infallible.

  • Eric M Russell

    SSC Guru

    Points: 125018

    So, if you've pulled off on the side of the highway, and the battery is dead or the car won't start, then the rear view cameras won't work?

    However, I don't see why a camera couldn't be integrated into the existing mirrors, proving proximity alerts and helping the driver clear blind spots when changing lanes. The mirror housing is mostly hollow, and having a small 1/2" camera hole in one corner wouldn't interfere with normal function of the mirror.

    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 715809

    kiwood wrote:

    The fact is that if cameras in place of mirrors scare you, you should stay off any commercial aircraft. There has been no mechanical connection between the cockpit and flight control surfaces in years. And a good part of the time that craft is flying, it is doing so autonomously. The autopilot does much more than fly along at a set engine speed and heading. It is adjusting engine speed, control surfaces and can even makes some changes in altitude and heading.

    The flip side here is the aircraft are inspected and checked a bit more often than the average vehicle.

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 715809

    I drove a new BMW recently (loaner) and it had a number of these features. There is a display below the speedometer telling you the current limit and it flashes when you exceed that. It flashed a lot for me, and I'd hope I could tune that to be (> 5mph over) as hills can mess with constant speeds in places.

    It also had collision avoidance, which vibrated and resisted on the steering wheel if you move over a line. As noted, it likely doens't work if the lines are obscured, but it doesn't pull back if the turn signal is on. I thought that was actually a nice feature when I realized it.

    I'm all for assistance, but as Eric noted, without power, we have issues. Certainly wiring is a part of that, and I'd hate for my mirrors to die while the car worked because of loose wires. We already have that issue at times with cars dying and it's difficult to get into neutral. I'd like to see emergency wired handles available for a few of these safety features, just in case.

  • DinoRS

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2513

    Who is "they" and what does suffice your request for a "true heads-up Display"? Does that include something like this? If so, pictured is actually a "low tech" version which pops up a small screen to display the Information. "Higher Tech" would have a special foil in the windscreen integrated. I mean you could have a HUD in a Corvette from 2001 which was actually colored so - what do you expect from a HUD in a car?

    If your answer is: "Display Information in the center of the drivers viewing area like in a Boeing 787" then the answer is rather short and clear: Will never happen, people just tend to be too distracted and actually start focusing the added information instead of what's actually going on.

    If I had a wish in regards to HUDs it would be: Show me a rpm bar instead of the current driving speed but asides that I'm happy if it's not oddly positioned so parts of the Information might not be seen depending on your size - like cutting off the upper half of the info if you're apparently sitting too high in a car (had this twice with BMWs - 5 and 3 Series).

    By the way: Brake-by-Wire is reality in consumer cars since the Toyota Prius, there is only an emergency hydraulic system in it which would get active if the car lost power.

    And to everyone tech agnostic: Shift-by-wire is something even the Crysler 200 has. Most cars these days are throttle-by-wire, too.  Steer-by-wire has been used in real Heavy Duty Trucks (No your Ford F150 or something is not Heavy Duty even if you buy it as an "HD", we're talking trucks > 40 tons here) since 40 years already.

    Granted production volumes are low but that stuff is already older than me.

  • TUellner

    SSCrazy

    Points: 2368

    Steve Jones - SSC Editor wrote:

    kiwood wrote:

    The fact is that if cameras in place of mirrors scare you, you should stay off any commercial aircraft. There has been no mechanical connection between the cockpit and flight control surfaces in years. And a good part of the time that craft is flying, it is doing so autonomously. The autopilot does much more than fly along at a set engine speed and heading. It is adjusting engine speed, control surfaces and can even makes some changes in altitude and heading.

    The flip side here is the aircraft are inspected and checked a bit more often than the average vehicle.

    Not to mention commercial aircraft are hugely expensive so the "by wire" systems are also much more expensive with redundancies you'd never see in cars. And even at that there's still the 737 MAX.

  • Neil Burton

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 21942

    kiwood wrote:

    There are, essentially, no moving parts or complex electronics to go wrong.  It just works.

    I would suggest that you look a little closer. There are a hug number of broken mirrors out there. There are a huge number that are not adjusted to be useful to the driver.

    I was generalising a great deal there but even in the case of a broken mirror, in many cases it only costs a couple of pounds for a replacement.  I live on a main road with no off-street parking and I've had to replace several mirror panes and I don't think I spent More than £30 for all of them.  On the one occasion I had to replace a full unit, it cost about £150, that included getting it sprayed to match and I fitted it myself.  I suspect a replacement camera will come in a long way North of £150 and good luck fitting it yourself.


    On two occasions I have been asked, "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" ... I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.
    —Charles Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher

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  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 715809

    No idea on the broken mirror. I replaced an older, powered, heated one in my Chevy that cost me US$50 and about 30 minutes. The camera module in my modern BMW is $400. That's without the mirror part. I would guess replacing these on the Audio would be north of that.

  • Matt Miller (4)

    SSC Guru

    Points: 124184

    I'm not sure this is a "high tech" vs "low tech" argument.  Other than one being more of a cultural mainstay than the other, most of the arguments so far would legitimately have the same issues either way.  both cameras and mirrors as they are implemented today have blind spots (they just seem to be in different spots), both can fail unexpectedly  or be rendered useless by the weather fairly quickly (fog and humidity seem to screw up both options pretty quickly from what I've seen so far, and I have both options on my current car).  In short - relying on any one of these technologies alone is likely to leave some risks unaddressed.  And while I might balk at the 400$ cost for the camera replacement, replacing the old-fashioned mirror on my car a few weeks ago was 350$ so I'\m not sure the cost differential was that different after all.

    While there doesn't seem to be a clear winner on the diving side to me, there is a design aspect that was ignored, which is the incremental passenger safety you might achieve by reducing window surfaces or removing windows entirely.  That is one area where I see some rather major improvements on the "high-tech" side, although I could see there bein some rather intense emotional adjustments to transiting in a fully enclosed metal casing every day.

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