Many years ago, Skoda had a poor reputation in the UK. Their cars were infamous for their unreliability, bad build quality and cheap appearance. Following their acquisition by Volkswagen in 1994, Skoda crept up the car food chain thanks to common platform manufacturing and new tech developed by VW.
Since then, Skoda has gone from strength to strength and is now positioned as a good quality, inexpensive brand. However, Skoda is pushing forward once again with their latest fleet, in particular, with safety and technology.
Introducing Skoda’s cycle-friendly car
The fourth-generation Skoda Octavia is one of the most cycle-friendly cars to be built and is jam-packed with a range of features to protect both drivers and our two-wheeled friends passing by.
The Czech car manufacturer has introduced a new system called ‘Exit Warning’; which is designed to reduce the chances of a driver ‘dooring’ a cyclist.
‘Exit Warning’ uses the Octavia’s blind spot detection sensors when the car is stationary to identify when a cyclist is approaching. The driver and passengers will be alerted by a variety of audio-visual cues to not open their doors until the cyclist has passed.
Any system which prevents car-dooring will be welcomed by cyclists, as it is a real issue within the UK. Over 3,100 cyclists were injured (8 fatally), between 2011 & 2015 according to statistics from the Department for Transport.
Skoda has not just stopped there. The new Octavia also comes with ‘Predictive Cycling Protection’ and ‘Turn Assist’.
The ‘Predictive Cycling Protection’ system provides an enhanced forward collision warning if a cyclist is detected ahead and has the power to engage the car’s emergency brakes if an accident is likely to happen.
‘Turn Assist’ has similar functionality; however, it uses the car’s onboard cameras and sensors to monitor oncoming traffic and evaluate if a right-hand turn at a junction is safe. If the car determines the manoeuvre is too dangerous, the car will be brought to a standstill.
The moral judgement issue
Although the new features packed into the Skoda Octavia are designed to protect cyclists, reservations regarding the true safety and moral judgement of smart technology in cars have circulated for years.
If a driver were to not see a cyclist and the car automatically swerved or broke to avoid a collision, that is fine.
But what would the car do if there was a vehicle passing on the other side of the road, in addition to another car tailgating behind? Who would the car protect?
Safety technology within cars has come a long way and will save lives. However, arguably, it doesn’t currently have the moral judgement and speed of thought that humans have to be given complete autonomous control.
It will be interesting to see how this technology develops in time, and how manufacturers overcome the moral judgment dilemma.