Thursday, June 13, 2013
The auto industry might be putting itself into a crisis with voice-activated systems for e-mail and other online activities. If there are accidents while someone is dictating an e-mail, look for torts to fly quickly and a PR headache. Auto companies insist they have worked through the safety of these connected systems. Outside experts differ. Sooner or later, voice-activated technologies will be in every car and competing for drivers' attention. We will learn who is right and who is wrong. Does it have to be this way? It doesn't. The auto industry can take into account research done already. Certainly the industry is aware of it, but there is a demand from consumers to stay connected. Auto engineers and marketers are rushing to meet it. If it is shown that one can't split attention between the road and a voice-activated system safely, that can lead to further development -- the automated car, which takes much of the driving responsibility out of the driver's hands. Technology is moving that way but one wonders why manufacturers are willing to take on greater risk in the face of contrary evidence. Voice-activated systems should come after vehicle automation and not before.