Google glass is still in its beta testing phase and you can only get one for testing purposes in special cases. In fact, yours truly has applied to receive one to see just how distracting it is while driving, but chances are I’ll never get my hands on one. On the surface, Google Glass looks like an awesome advancement in communication and entertainment, but when we dig a little deeper, some big issues arise.
We love automotive technology here at Topspeed, but at some point technology becomes distracting and Google Glass is right at that boundary. What makes matters worse is that several automakers are looking to integrate Google Glass into their navigation and infotainment system, with the latest being Mercedes-Benz. The problem becomes the fact that while this looks like an easier and safer way to transmit information to drivers, it actually poses some serious safety concerns.
First and foremost, Google Glass displays the information directly in front of one of your eyes, which is very distracting. Another downfall that is well documented is the fact that the prism that displays the information is reportedly "faint," making it tough to see the display in natural light — what we drive in the majority of the time. This could result in a user focusing too much on the screen and not the traffic in front of them, ending in a crash.
Additionally, sudden movements, like bumps on a road, can cause the device to slide down your nose, which causes the faintness of the screen to become worse until the user adjusts it. This could result in the user repeatedly adjusting it, leading to even more distractions.
Lastly, with so many drivers already breaking the cell phone- and video-use laws while driving, do we really need a screen sitting directly in front of the driver? Also, is having a navi screen directly in front of your eyes instead of in you peripheral vision really that much more convenient? The answer to both questions is a "no" in my opinion...
Sure, this is all up for debate and Google Glass is still in beta phase, so things may change when it rolls out in production form. However, unless Google makes some serious safety changes to the existing Glass, I think the NHTSA may want to take a close look at banning its use while driving nationwide, bypassing the state-by-state issues we have on cell phone use.
Autonomous driving is on the tips of all of our tongues at any given moment, as it is the most likely “next generation” step in the automotive world. One of the key components of perfecting automated driving is the introduction of car-to-car-to-object communication – communication between cars and traffic-control devices. Think of it as a Facebook for the automotive world. Every car needs to update its status and plans to all of the other cars and the traffic controls “in its network” (in the area), so that they know how to plan accordingly.
Sure automated driving works okay via a series of sensors, but that only allows so much. This social networking allows car to plan routes, avoid traffic, avoid accidents, and so forth, ahead of time. Germany has taking the driver’s seat in this matter, by introducing the Safe Intelligent Mobility – Testfield Germany (sim TD) - which allows controlled testing of these communication systems. Mercedes-Benz is one maker that will provide Germany with cars for this testing program and has now chosen to do some of its own car-to-car-to-object testing at its own facility in Palo Alto, California. During its infancy, this system will utilize the network of cars to sense a line of stopped cars over the peak of a hill or around a blind turn, helping prevent a rear-end collision because the driver and automated sensing devices couldn’t see the stopped cars.
In the long run, this system may end up being the basis that automated driving on a regular basis spawns from. Using sensors alone to eliminate the driver’s need to control a car is pretty dangerous, as the sensors can only see what the human eye can see. This automotive network, on the other hand, allows the car to see things well in advance, making automated driving the safest driving method. That sounds like a good plan to us.
We’ll keep you updates as testing continues.
Mercedes has partnered with Google and Yahoo to provide their driver with some on board maps... But hold on a minute don’t they have GPS already on board ? Sure they do, and Mercedes owner pay a hefty premium for the navigation of course. But apparently the system is so poorly designed that they’d rather use Google Maps instead.