Demos That Crash, Literally

from the whoops dept

I've done plenty of live demos in my life, and it's always a bit scary as you hope that everything goes right. You practice and you practice and you practice, but you never know what might come up at the last minute -- especially if you've been unable to practice at the actual demo site. It's always good to have a backup plan (or three), but sometimes things just go wrong. When the thing that goes wrong is the very feature you're trying to demo, though, it looks especially bad. While we're all used to hearing stories about computer and software crashes during demonstrations, Digg points us to a story about how Mercedes wanted to show off their new radar-based braking system that's supposed to help avoid car accidents. They brought in a bunch of TV cameras and reporters, only to create a three car pileup. The problem? The radar was confused by the steel walls of the demo site. Yup. Should have practiced at the site earlier. Preferably in a way that wouldn't smash up three relatively expensive vehicles.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Jared Anderson, Nov 16th, 2005 @ 11:06pm

    No Subject Given

    Thats hilarious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    z0idberg, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 1:26am

    good advertising..

    I like how directly after the article is an ad. "Looking for a new Mercedes car to lease or purchase?". I'm not sure thats such a good way to drum up business.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Boo, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 1:42am

    i feel sorry for them

    when windows crashes during a bill gates demo, i smugly grin, but with this story I share their pain! I dunno, maybe it's cause i know what it feels like when something you could have never predicted happening undermines your work and make you look like an idiot!

    ...but that said, perhaps this is something they could have (shoud have?) predicted. i wonder what kind of problems you would have parking this car on a car-ferry, or driving through a steel re-inforced tunnel!!?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    LaidLaw, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 2:18am

    Re: i feel sorry for them

    I guess it is good to always remember that technology only assists, and doesn't really ever replace.

    I feel their pain too. You can work as hard as you want, sometimes things just aren't going to work out right.

    As somebody who does live sound on a regular basis, there have been a number of times that everything looks good and runs good up until show time, then bamo! Something major goes wrong.

    A few times we even had equipment catch on fire DURING shows. Yup. I know what they went through.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    thecaptain, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 5:40am

    Re: i feel sorry for them

    Well said.

    I am very leery of any technology that attempts to replace human intervention, as stupid and inadequate as it could be at times.

    Just this quote:

    "The system "works perfectly in all other circumstances", according to Mercedes. For now, though, it may be worth keeping your foot near the brake pedal."

    Chills me to my very bones, because if they failed to take into account the test site, what else did they miss?

    Software is NEVER bug shouldn't replace human intervention, only enhance it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Mel, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 7:04am

    No Subject Given

    They're saying the system "works perfectly in all other circumstances", which implies that they know all of the conditions in which it works .. and those in which it doesn't. Yet had they actually known, they would not have tested in the "steel hall".

    So ... they don't know where it works and where it doesn't.

    Guardrail is made of steel. What if you're in the middle of three lanes with a semi-tailer on either side (I know, aluminum, but plenty of steel too).
    I'm just sayin'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Danny Davila, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 9:21am

    Re: No Subject Given

    An even better situation is big cities like New York, where the chance of signal echo or dropouts are likely to occur.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    MindTrigger, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 9:29am

    Re: No Subject Given

    It's not about predicting the problem. Part of your plan should be to do a couple "test runs" before going on the air. Simply assuming everything will be ok for your demo is retarded. I guess I though this was a universal "known" by now. hahaha.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    giafly, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 10:26am

    Hacking this device

    Apparantly 19% of people consider tailgating the most annoying thing that other drivers do. If systems like this become commonplace, I wonder how long it will be before you can get a "beeper" to fire at following cars and jam their brakes on?

    Alternatively, if an unexpected radar reflection can confuse the braking system of expensive cars and stop them working, the possibilities for terrorists and vandals are obvious.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Astroturf Non-user, Nov 17th, 2005 @ 11:41pm

    Re: i feel sorry for them

    Sadly though, people let technology control them all the time. 4x4 drivers on ice are a great example. Having lived in the Colorado mountians, I can't tell you the number of times I have watched 4x4 drivers speed past me on a slick mountian pass.

    Even sadder, I can recall the number of times I had to call 911 from the nearest payphone because that same driver drove off the highway, and down into a valley.

    No matter what technology you have in your car, your safety has more to do with you than it does your features.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anony Moose, Dec 7th, 2005 @ 5:52pm

    Re: Hacking this device

    Yes, because terrorists have been waiting years to stop Mercedes from driving on our roads...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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