Doug Toppin's Blog

My thoughts on technology and other stuff

The Google Car and AF447

The subject of Air France flight 447 continues to interest me from both the technology and human factors engineering aspects and a recent episode of the Planet Money podcast tied it to the self driving Google car in a way that I had not thought of.

The Google car does not have a steering wheel for emergency manual control because people will frequently make the wrong decision in what they believe is an emergency situation and make the event worse. Something that the podcast pointed out was that with AF447 had the pilots not done anything at all the plane would have keep flying straight and level and eventually flown out of the icing event. Instead one of the pilots took control and pitched the plane up eventually leading to a stall and catastrophe. Had they just sat there and watched the plane continue to fly itself everything would likely have turned out ok.

http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510289/planet-money

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