Self-Driving Cars and Impact Drivers

At some car show or another, Nissan as well as a few other auto companies announced their plans for Self-Driving cars. Google’s been testing them for quite a while. They’ve racked up somewhere over one million (“accident-free” miles, as they’re quick to point out) among their beige, bland, boring, depressing fleet of automobiles fleet of precision machines.

The CEO of Daimler (the guy with the mustache) went on record saying:

“Autonomous vehicles are an important step on the way to accident-free driving.” — Mustached Executive

Even I am not going to argue that this isn’t a great achievement. It is. I write software — it’s difficult not to stand in awe that someone has actually solved something that is actually a very difficult problem. There. That’s said. What I will argue with though, is that they solved it wrong.

Here, I want to talk about a horrible tool called an Impact Driver. The idea is quite simple, you have a high-torque phillips head screw. For those of you unfamiliar with this, it’s impossible to actually apply any force to said type of screw to loosen it, because there’s no way you can get a ‘grip’ on it. Often, you’ll therefore fine these types of screws in totally inappropriate places where the screw is torqued down so far that you can’t get it off without drilling it out. Enter: IMPACT DRIVER. It’s simple. You put it on the screw head like any ordinary screw driver, and then hit it with a hammer. The driver compresses driving itself into the screw and turning slightly. You can take the screw out.


Awesome. Except, it shouldn’t exist. Every application where there is a heavily-torqued bolt, there should be a bolt, not a screw with a phillips head that is rusted stuck.



This, I think, is like autonomous cars. It’s an amazing, amazing tool that solves a problem that shouldn’t exist. I continue to advocate for cheaper, more effective solutions to distracted (and hence, accident-free) driving, like Driver Education and Public Transit and Not Driving if you don’t feel personally qualified to do so. Education and competency solve other problems too, like high text messaging bills that arise from when you should be driving (Ok, I know everyone has an unlimited plan, but bear with me). Someone put a screw in the wrong place and auto companies are trying to invent the impact driver for it, when really, we should have just put a 10mm bolt there, easily accessible with a breaker bar.


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