How the Kill Switch Already Works

  • November 16, 2023

You’ve probably heard by now about what’s styled the “kill switch” all new vehicles will be required to have, beginning with the 2026 models. You may not have heard that the “technology” is already in most new vehicles.

It is styled assistance “technology” – as for example speed limit assistance technology – which is but one of several kinds of “assistance” already embedded in almost all new cars and most cars made since about five years ago. Other iterations include brake assistance technology and lane keep assistance technology.

But the purpose of all of these “technologies” is not so much to assist as to control you.

The “assist” verbiage is to gull you into accepting being controlled – a little bit at a time – by not understanding that’s what’s ultimately intended. Until the time has passed to prevent it. Just the same as people were gulled, a century ago, into believing they wouldn’t be paying taxes on their incomes.

Only the rich would.

But how, exactly, does this “assistance” work? And how will it work?

Let’s start with what’s styled “speed limit assistance technology.”

It works by continuously keeping track of exactly how fast you’re driving at any given time and exactly what the speed limit is at the same time. It works via the GPS “technology” all new vehicles have that is aware of the vehicle’s speed as you’re driving that is then correlated with data about the road you’re driving on; specifically, what the speed limit is on that road. Which it knows because speed limits are part of what’s mapped by the GPS.

The two bits of data are compared and if you are driving faster than whatever the speed limit is, the car “assists” you via an icon built into the dash display that looks just like a speed limit sign – the number displayed being the speed limit of the road you’re driving on – that shifts from the white background with black lettering of the actual speed limit sign to angry red and flashing, often accompanied by a tone.

You know, like the kind used to train a puppy.

In Europe, where this “technology” has already been mandated, the “assistance” is more forceful. If the driver exceeds the speed limit, the car slows down. The accelerator pedal becomes harder to depress – or it pushes back. The driver can (for now) push down harder, to override the “assistance” – but the relevant fact is that the driver can be overridden by this “technology.”

In order to understand the how of that it is necessary to understand that pretty much all vehicles made since at least a decade ago have computer-controlled accelerator pedals.

In the past, the accelerator pedal was connected to a cable and the cable pulled on the throttle when the driver pushed down on the accelerator pedal, giving the driver absolute control over engine acceleration. Push down on the accelerator and the engine would speed up, thereby causing the car to speed up.

But about a decade ago, it became common for new vehicles to have what’s called drive-by-wire throttle control. There is still an accelerator pedal – but it no longer controls the acceleration of the engine.

The computer that controls the operation of the engine does.

When you push down on the accelerator, the deflection is registered by sensors that feed the data to the computer, which tells the engine to accelerate (rev) accordingly. But it can just as easily tell the engine to rev less – or not at all. Push down as hard as you like – all the way to the floor. You have as much control over your car as the people riding in the backseat.

But you do have the illusion of control.

This illusion will be dispelled when “assistance” exerts the control it already has over your vehicle; you just don’t appreciate the fact.

Yet.

You will, when the “technology” is updated to do more than “assist” you. Just like your phone – which isn’t really your phone, given the fact that you have no control or say over whether it gets updated. The vehicle you think belongs to you will be updated to operate in accordance with the owners, whenever they so decide.

Irrespective of your wishes.

And you won’t have to wait until the 2026 model year to experience the thrill of owning a vehicle you don’t control – if you already own a vehicle made during the past five years or so.

Like unseen cancer that’s been quietly metastasizing deep within your guts. assistance technology has been metastasizing into the “kill switch” you’ve been reading about that’s already here.

. . .

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