Courtesy Ian Hampton
There's been a lot of news lately about "unintended acceleration" -- cars suddenly gaining high speed and drivers unable to stop them. Some observers question whether the problem lies with the car or with the driver. But whatever the cause, unintended acceleration is a deadly danger to the driving public.
Or is it?
Popular Mechanics crunched the numbers. They found unintended acceleration causes 3.2 deaths per year. This compares to:
If you find your car accelerating, slam on the brakes, throw it into neutral, and steer to the side of the road. But don't waste time worrying about it. Instead, you should spend your effort avoiding bad weather, distractions, and above all not driving under the influence.
Courtesy Jeffrey & MamiIf Jack Benny were still around, this bit of news would have really pushed him over the edge.
This week Toyota Motor Corporation unveiled its latest robot, one that can play the violin. Its debut performance was “Pomp and Circumstance,” evidently signifying that robot technology has graduated into the realm of classical music.
This new robot is the latest version in Toyota’s ongoing efforts to find ways to use robots to assist humans in everyday life. Three years ago, it debuted a trumpet-playing robot.
But before all you starving musicians start to worry about getting pushed to obsolescence by robots, don’t worry. Toyota doesn’t plan to create a full orchestra of robots.
Rather, these are the initial steps in designing robots that could help needy people, particularly the elderly or disabled, be able to accomplish common tasks without the assistance of another person. Toyota’s goal is to have prototypes of those types of robots complete in the early 2010s.
Why would a car-manufacturing company be developing robots for human use? Since the 1980s companies like Toyota have increasingly been using robots to perform tasks on car production lines. So car manufacturers have a head start in finding ways to apply robotics technology. Leading players in the commercial robot field right now are Toyota, Honda and Sony Corp.
While the robot’s ability to play the violin is pretty impressive, developers say that they’re still working to improve it’s hand and arm flexibility for it to have even greater applications.
Personally, I’d love to see a robot that could play the full guitar solo of Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze.”