Don’t call me Shirley, Otto

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I spend a lot of time (probably an unhealthy amount) staring out the window at all the different homes and properties we pass, wondering what they look like on the inside, and what’s going on with the people living in them. I like to play CSI and extrapolate theories about décor and contents of a home by what’s displayed outside.

For instance: a nice, well-manicured yard with cute statues of bubble frogs probably leads into a home with a lot of light blue carpet, Thomas Kinkade paintings, at least one Hummel figurine, and a small, yappy dog.

On the other hand, if there’s a “Don’t Tread on Me” flag being used as the front window curtains, a butcher-hanging frame made from an old swing set, and an odd assortment of 50 gallon drums strewn around, you can pretty much bet there are guns, pit bulls and illegal alcohol of some sort on the premises.

Of course, all these theories are based solely on my own personal experience, and should never be misconstrued as fact, which is why I brought us down this meandering road in the first place.

I read a Yahoo News article yesterday about the new “Otto” self-driving truck technology, scheduled to hit the test markets this fall. Find it here. There are a myriad of things that bother me about this article, but two really bear to be noted.

dont-call-me-shirley-ottoOtto, a partnership between former tech giant staffer on a partially self-driving Class 8, is basically equipment they’ve designed to install in existing vehicles with autopilot capabilities. Using a complex system of cameras, GPS and mapping devices, the software allows the vehicle to make “real-time driving decisions,” so the driver can “leave the wheel.”

O_o (My face when I read on and realized it wasn’t a joke.)

Hi, my name is “Danger, Will Robinson!”

Also, if you don’t imagine Leslie Nielsen saying “Don’t call me Shirley” the minute you hear the word autopilot you need to catch up on your “Airplane” movies.

Let’s add in, “Have you ever seen some of the places our GPS has tried to take us?”

Honestly, if we left it up to the GPS, we’d have destroyed a Civil War cemetery, two bridges and a calving shed by now, not to mention the hundreds of innocent chickens we’d have murdered if George had followed the directions and taken it through the chicken house, instead of around it. It was a 12-foot mapping mistake that could have made a huge difference in the lives of a bunch of chickens, not to mention our insurance rates.

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Sorry, I’m either too old or too stupid to accept this just yet. My personal feeling is you “Otto” run far and fast if you ever see one of these trucks on the road.

The other thing that bothers me about this article has nothing to do with the technology, and everything to do with some of the statements made in it. Things like, “Otto focuses on maximizing the efficiency and safety of long-haul trucks, which spend much of their time on the side of the road as drivers rest.”

Um. What? I’m sorry, but you’ll have to tell me where we find these herds of trucks sitting on the side of the road just wasting “much of their time” by allowing the driver to rest. What kind of stupid statement is that? Does this person have an editor? Clearly, they need TD in the mix over at Yahoo.

The final rock in my boot about this article is the assertion that “trucks fitted with Otto software can drive more than double their normal daily mileage.” Hey, guess what, Scooter? So can people on paper logs, but that don’t make it legal. The statement is a glaring clue that the person writing the article and making the quotes doesn’t understand the hours of service. They’re looking at our yard as they pass by and making assumptions about the industry, based on their personal experience.

Unfortunately, this is the case most of the time when it comes to the trucking industry. Rarely is the professional driver included on changes and decisions being made within the industry, they don’t get to vote on new laws or mandates imposed in the name of “safety,” in the very industry they have proven unequivocally to be operating safely as a whole. That don’t make no sense, folks.

And don’t call me Shirley.