Thursday, November 24, 2005

Pilots Are Control Freaks

Coming down a slippery hill recently, I needed to brake. I could feel the car just about to skid, but just as I was about to let up on the brake pedal, there was a whap-whap-whap pulsing and the anti-lock braking system cut in. I knew I had this in this car, but it's the first time it has cut in. I've never landed an airplane that had ABS, either.

So did I marvel at its efficiency? Did I say to myself "what a cool safety feature!"? No, for that moment where the automated system effectively took control from me, my reaction was irritation. "Hey!" I said internally, "I was handling it!" No braking system is going to take over from me without my explicit permission.

The ABS system did do a good job, though.

Back to lighting systems next time I blog.


Anonymous said...

What? They pay you so well you have a car with ABS? Some of us have to put up with 15 year old BMWs.

Greybeard said...

A pilot I work with, and you're right.....we kinda all are control freaks, almost wrecked his car last year because of ABS.
He was in an off-camber downhill turn, approaching a stop sign, when one of his front wheels began to skid, activating the ABS. He slid through the intersection.
If he had been able to control the brakes manually, three of his wheels would have had normal braking. As it was, all four wheels went into "emergency mode".
I think they are probably an improvement in most situations, but there are individual cases where, like wearing your seat belt, it could be detrimental.
Can they economically design a system that works on the situation an individual wheel senses?
That'd be neat.