Deputy Director

Deputy Director Report
By John Reblin 

Not sure why but for whatever reason I started thinking about cartoons and comics. Growing up as a kid we got the old Milwaukee Journal delivered every day and I looked forward to tearing into it to read the comics in the Green sheet. The comics were pretty good back then, Mark Trail, Beetle Bailey, along with Freddy and Nancy. Later I found The Far Side, now that was funny! I mean two old dogs talking about when they were pups playing with a cat head just made me laugh for hours. I have that comic in my laptop and it still cracks me up.

Cartoons were another thing that I enjoyed. Bugs Bunny, The Road Runner, Foghorn Leghorn all those I thought were great. Saturday and Sunday morning getting to catch bits and pieces in between doing other things brought a smile to my face. Other ones played as prime time television, The Flintstones, Rocky and Bullwinkle and more made me smile as a kid.

One of my other favorites was the Jetsons. George, Jane, Judy, and Elroy along with the pet dog Astro: a space age family having different adventures in a future space setting. As we were pushing the limits of space and getting closer for the run to the moon, well the Jetson were living the dream in outer space. Growing up I looked forward to my flying car, instant meals, and communication that was fast and easy. Well that was almost 50 years ago ... but we are almost living that cartoon world now on earth.

The communications on the show was by video, well how many of us use Facetime or Skype? I do many times talking to my daughter in Florida as she walks around showing me things. Or me calling when I am trying to do something on my laptop and it just is not working she can walk me through it. In the opening scene of the Jetsons George is walking Astro on a treadmill - getting caught up twisting around the track with the dog watching him go around and round. I am up early almost every day trying to improve my health on a treadmill in my basement. Judy had Rosie the robot that they used as a maid. I know the little flower would like Rosie around here once in a while but we are close. We put some meals in the microwave and a minute later they are cooked. Dishwasher yep got it. Vacuum up the house well we don't have it but friends do, the Roomba. It seems to work pretty well: running itself around the house, cleaning the floors, circling around the furniture and pulling back into its docking station.

George and the Jetson family got around in the "car" a spaceship that drove itself to where ever the family wanted to go. Well I am no pilot but large airplanes get the majority of the way on their own, with pilots taking over for take-offs and landings. So, the trips to the store or Spacely Sprockets, well we are almost there now with Autonomous Vehicles ... it's not a cartoon anymore.

Wisconsin is now part of 10 states that got a grant for Autonomous Vehicles and testing them. In the beginning, they will be around Madison off road, going to Road America and other areas testing and improving the technology. I would assume whatever happens they will get onto the road as they are in other states. The reason behind all this technology is that "experts" feel they will reduce crashes and fatalities on our roads. (Remember all the talk we hear, if you don't correct it, we will and you won't like it.) The discussions I have heard center around the "fact" that about 90 percent of the crashes are driver error or preventable crashes. Whether it is speed, not staying within the lane, alcohol, or whatever, the industry is trying to reduce these crashes. The thought is the technology will reduce crashes by over 80 percent. I doubt the number is accurate, how can they be so sure?

There have been some crashes. Some caused by other vehicles causing the crash running into the autonomous vehicle and a few caused by the "smart car" not "seeing" the other vehicle. Some have a person sitting by the controls, riding along ready to take over the wheel, but others there is no driver to take over, we are passengers just riding along. What is my thought on these "smarter" cars and all this technology? Well I am not sure if we will have them available for use in 4 years or 40 years. I don't think I will have one in my lifetime: high cost is enough for me not to buy one, but at some point yes, they will be around.

How will these autonomous vehicles impact my choice of travel with my motorcycle is unknown. It seems like there has not been much talk about how they will interact. I am not sure how much testing has been done with motorcycles and other smaller modes of transportation. I would hope and expect some sort of testing and conversation on how motorcycles and other older vehicles are going to interact with these vehicles. ABATE of Wisconsin is asking on several fronts to be sitting at the table on these discussions. We have asked Rep. Neylon to be part of the committee on the state level. Chubby and I met with Sec. Ross of the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation and the topic came up and we asked to be included in the conversation. I also asked as part of the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council. The technology is, I think in the infancy stage, but so were cell phones a few years back. Hopefully they will respect our request and let us give valued input in the transition and if they move forward with this technology on a greater scale we will make them understand they need to be able to see motorcycles as well as other vehicles. How the A/V vehicles will interact with motorcycles, animals, and with other non-communicating vehicles needs to be addressed. Other questions come to my mind such as insurance and who is responsible: the "driver" or the software? What about other safety concerns like seatbelts and driving under the influence. Will I need to be required to be buckled in and will "the car" be my designated driver?

We have a lot to watch for and questions to ask and be answered but I think in the future the Flintstones will be moving towards the Jetsons and we need to be wary and part of the decision making process.

Reblin, John. "Deputy Director Report." ABATE of Wisconsin Newsletter May. 2017.

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