SmartDrive camera Pottles Transportation
A still from a video captured by the SmartDrive event recorder depicts a collision that ended up exonerating a Pottle's Transportation driver.

The eyes have it! Seeing is believing

Normally we ask a crowd to vote with “ayes” and “nays.” Often, we want the “ayes” to win, such as when we ask for all those in favor of a proposition or for approving the minutes of the last meeting. In this case, I’m honestly talking about “eyes.” They are everywhere! Don’t you know it?

Last night I paid a traffic violation over the internet that was issued to me via snail mail by a camera in another state. While the paper they sent me had static, poor pictures of my car, there was a website with a short .avi formatted video for me to view. It seems, I either made a rolling stop or misinterpreted the rules for turning on a red arrow in that city of that state, based on my online search of social media.

Indirect vision is a better description of the “eyes” I’m talking about. I recently presented on autonomous vehicles to a local group, and again at a national conference. I called it Vision for a Roadmap to Autonomy (Check out the Resources tab and scroll down). In it, I discussed the various ways that a machine such as an autonomous car senses its surroundings. It does not do much with touch or smell or hearing. Taste is not used and it does not have a sixth sense in its artificially intelligent brain. That leaves something akin to sight as the main way. It uses cameras, lidars, radars, ultrasonics and more to sense its surroundings. But, there’s more.

We use the “eye” in our smartphones for just about everything. I just viewed a video of my 10-month-old grandson trying to ascend the stairs. I took a picture of a chair caster and attached it to a request for a quote from Shepherd casters online. Yesterday I took pictures of a projected slide at a conference. Earlier today I took a picture of a business card to enter it into my database. Yesterday I took a picture of the fabric on our loveseat to try to match it with the new one we will buy at La-Z-Boy. I took a screenshot of an internet page to be able to use it elsewhere.

My son has a camera in the baby’s room to keep track of activity. My wife and I have a camera in our doorbell, two more focused on areas outside and two focused on areas inside. I still have two more that are ready to be installed somewhere. All of these for security and peace of mind.

I just attended a conference for Work Trucks in Indianapolis. I counted 25 different companies offering cameras for backing up on vehicles, 360-degree bird’s eye view of the vehicle, side looking cameras to help with changing lanes, dash cameras for recording the scene in front of a vehicle and cameras for viewing the driver to help avoid distracted driving. I’m sure I missed some of the uses of the cameras.

Oh, I forgot to mention the camera in my smartphone that recognizes my face automatically to allow me to use it, open protected applications, and pay for my prescriptions.

Pickup trucks have cameras to help with attaching a trailer and with maneuvering the trailer into a parking spot or getting the boat down a ramp to launch it into the water.

Two automobile manufacturers, Tesla and Daimler, have petitioned the government to allow cameras and digital displays to replace mirrors. This would allow them to make the cars sleeker and more fuel efficient.

Some people that haul horses have cameras in the trailer to watch their pets remotely.

Laser-based seeing systems scan our groceries at the checkout. Airport security checks the QR code on our boarding passes with a seeing system.

Do you “see” anything I’ve missed?

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