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Bench Talk for Design Engineers

Bench Talk


Bench Talk for Design Engineers | The Official Blog of Mouser Electronics

Smart Cars Will Increase the Life Expectancy of Texters Arden Henderson

So, no doubt you've heard of the oncoming wave of self-driving driverless smart cars. Major manufacturers are already incorporating self-driving features into regular cars while others are starting off with automobiles designed up from the ground to be driverless.

Now, it should be noted at the beginning of a Mouser blog about smart cars that Mouser doesn't actually market any smart cars or complete smart car kits. True; this writer spent three weeks scouring the Mouser catalog. Notably, there are also zero rumors that Mouser is quietly gearing up to engineer the Mouser Smart Car and sell it, perhaps even changing the Texas Legislature's mind about selling cars directly to the public. Steering clear of starting such rumors (even about that secret engineering floor, SC-4, four floors down below street level), it's meanwhile useful to chat about smart cars and the impact of the near and far future.

What makes smart cars "smart" is all the electronics and servos and other cool whatnot that go into a smart car. That brings in Mouser. Turning once again to the Mouser catalog, we can see that there's tons of stuff useful to getting started. [1] While you are at it, might as well make your first smart car electric. Read up [2] to get an overview and then start designing and prototyping.

While you are thinking about creating your future electric smart car, and drawing diagrams on napkins in restaurants and cool, dark bars, it's useful to note that when (not if) smart cars are rolling around everywhere, navigating cities and cruising on turnpikes past pastoral scenes in the country, there will be a bunch of safety benefits.

One benefit often touted is that smart cars will make better decisions and exercise prudence not found in many human drivers these days.

Wait. Better than human drivers!? No need to throw in some link references here; just take a quick look at  the traffic report on early morning TV on any given day for a snapshot of mayhem.

Used to be, driving was actually done for entertainment. The Sunday drive. See the country, see the city, visit cool places! Feel the road under the tires, feel the wind, listen to the low-throated growl of the engine. Now, with the endless texters, phone-talkers, tailgaters and other aggressive, impatient drivers, driving is an exercise in survival. And there’s the congestion. There's that. Backed up traffic is often due to some car wreck a few miles away. (See: Texters, Phone-talkers, Tailgaters)

Smart cars will not be impatient. Because they will not have emotions, road-rage will not be a factor. Smart cars will not be distracted, either. Which brings us to the texters and phone-talkers. You've probably heard of the texting-while-driving is the same as driving after three quickly-downed beers. (Easy to find with your favorite search engine.) And you've no doubt read studies that show talking with someone on the phone while driving is not the same as, and is profoundly more unsafe than, chatting with someone in your car.

Distracted driving is a big deal. Bunches of tragic human stories and lots of data and stats and research and studies, all easily found on the web. As a starter, take a look at the US government's Distracted Driving site.

But there is a brighter future. Just think ahead to the time when smart cars proliferate on the roadways, gradually replacing human-driven cars in the same slow yet relentless fashion the "horseless buggy" replaced horses on the roadways in yesteryear.

If the theory is true that smart cars will be safer -- and we can reasonably posit such is a reasonable assertion by just imagining the many of the drivers we witness when commuting to and fro work suddenly replaced with smart car smarts -- then lives will be saved. Smart cars will be like micro-trains where you can just sit and look out the window (a lost art) or read the newspaper made of paper (coming back) or check your work email (avoid unpaid OT and wait until at work).

In context of distracted driving, this means texters will be able to text contently while the smart car gets them from A to B. No worries about the car travelling hundreds of feet while they look down and type. And phone-talkers can talk safely. Over some decades, this means texter and phone-talker drivers and road-rage people and tailgaters and passers-on-the-shoulder types will all live, and allow other people to live, preserving family trees.

Think of the ripple effect down through generations of people. Maybe some future great-grandkid of a texter protected by a smart car will grow up and invent the warp drive.

So, get started on your smart car or smart car subsystems. The permutations of a better future are even now branching exponentially.

As Poehler (2014) notes, "You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing." [3]




[3] Poehler, A. (2014). Yes Please. New York, NY : Dey St.,

     an imprint of William Morrow Publishers.


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Arden Henderson spent at least part of his life toolsmithing in dark, steam-powered workshops of software tool forges long gone, drenched in blood, sweat, and code under the glare of cathode ray tubes, striving for the perfect line of self-modifying software and the holy grail of all things codecraft: The perfectly rendered pixel. These days, when not working on his 1964 Flux Blend time machine (which he inadvertently wrecked before it was built after a particularly deep recursive loop), Mr. Henderson works in part-time castle elf and groundskeeper jobs, chatting with singularities spawned from code gone mad in vast labyrinths of vacuum tubes, patch cords, and electro-mechanical relays. Mr. Henderson earned a B.S.C.S. late in life at Texas A&M. Over the hundreds of years gone by before then and after, he has worked in various realms ranging from petrochemical wonderlands spread across the flat Gulf Coast saltgrass plains, as far as the eye can see, to silicon bastions deep in the heart of Central Texas.

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