Date: June 19, 2014 09:58
Sorry to step up on my soap box, but this is something I have been thinking about for awhile, and after reading yet another senselessly tragic story it triggered my thoughts that there is a relatively easy solution to this problem.
Everything is smart these days. Smart phones, smart airbags, smart refrigerators, Smart Cars, memory foam mattresses. You name it, it probably has an embedded processor with more clock cycles than the USA's entire space program up through the 70s.
In cars alone, we have radar sensors, computer vision systems, wi-fi hotspots, millions of line of code, and enough computing power to run a moderately sized cloud hosting service. All of this technology is there to help drivers parallel park their cars, maintain their lanes, alert them of the dangers lurking with a 10 meter cone surrounding their vehicles, and even stop the car from 80mph with absolutely no driver intervention. You can pair your car to your smartphone and make and receive telephone calls, send and receive SMS messages. You can also connect apps and stream your favorite radio stations or even watch Netflix movies on your Display Audio-equipped Honda (only when the car is parked, of course). From your smartphone, you can check the charge status of your EV's batteries, remotely operate the HVAC system, remotely start the car. One day, you will probably even be able to remotely command your car to fetch you from its parking spot.
So with all of this advanced safety and entertainment technology, why haven't any of the automakers developed a "smart" occupant detection system? One which senses that a vehicle occupant was possibly accidentally left behind in a parked car, and oh, wow, the cabin temp is already nearing triple digits? With all the "smarts" cars possess these days, it seems like the vehicle could do any number of things to improve the stranded occupant's chances for survival. Here's just a few things I'm thinking:
- Start the car, activate the climate control system in order to maintain a habitable environment - let's say 75F (of course, this would require some form of CO detection, but we'll let the engineers sort that out).
- Honk the horn at specific intervals to gain the attention of any nearby people.
- Send a text message or even telephone call to the person who owns the car
- If 3) fails after a prescribed number of attempts, alert OnStar/AcuraLink/911
- Failing all of the above, unlock the doors and roll down the windows
There is already a huge array of driver-nanny aids - CMBS, LKAS, LDW, FCW, ACC. Generally, these are all designed to save the rest of us from distracted/inattentive/incompetent drivers in moving vehicles. Now, let's focus on the innocents who could be saved from the same inattentive/distracted drivers once the vehicle is parked.
This occupant detection system should be mandatory on every Van, Mini-van, SUV, and CUV that is sold. Bonus points for manufacturers who equip every one of their vehicles with it.
Last edited by JeffX on
June 19, 2014 10:41