What’s the Buzz: Are Malaysian drivers ready for automation?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you would’ve come across the news regarding the grounding the Boeing 737 Max series of passenger jets following the tragic crashes involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, with the issue centred around Boeing’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and the manner which pilots respond to its workings.

Without wading into the technical deep end of MCAS, just think of it as the equivalent to a car’s lane keeping assist or frontal collision mitigation system, devised by Boeing to prevent the 737 from stalling in mid-air and falling out of the sky. And while the world awaits conclusions from investigators, pilot training has also been called into question.

Technology in modern cars saves lives, but are we equipped to handle them?

No, this isn’t about not trusting automation, because technology does save lives, proven across many different fields and industries. The question is: are Malaysian drivers ready for it, especially over this period where more mainstream models (no longer just premium brands) are sprouting semi-autonomous driving functions?

Can we expect a new driver who had just earned his or her probationary licence on a modest Perodua Viva to be able to discern the pitfalls of being over-reliant on technology, and to operate a vehicle with adaptive cruise control and lane keeping aid safely? Maybe it’s time to update the syllabus.


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