Can you drive a car while facing backwards?

Originally published at: Can you drive a car while facing backwards? | Boing Boing

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You mean, without crashing?

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I wonder if it’d work better if you were completely enclosed SPV style rather than the real world being right in your peripheral vision.

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Came to say exactly this. The SPV has a small window only, that the driver would have been able to ignore, due to its position.

(ETA - Tom Scott is clearly such an on-camera natural and professional it is surprising he has not been offered his own proper TV show by now. He could be making today’s equivalent of the stuff James Burke used to do for the BBC. Or maybe he has been offered it, and he prefers to stay making his living where he is.)

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Our newer car has a backup camera which I find very disorienting for anything other than checking for kids and cars. Fortunately, the old “throw your arm over the passenger seat and crane your neck to the rear” still works fine.

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didn’t the aymara feel your past was a path ahead of you, and your future behind? you could get glimpses of your future - over your shoulder i suppose - while the only thing you could see clearly was where you’ve been

ummm. yeah. so that

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I think the thing that would get me is having to use a handheld controller instead of a steering wheel.

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I was going to make a similar comment, until I saw the second half of the video where they jury-rigged their original wheel back on and Tom was hugely more confident and competent with that.

ETA and the later footage with the wheel was in the dark where perhaps having the world going past you in the wrong direction was less noticeable and thus less disconcerting.

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Ah, ok. I bowed out before they got to that part.

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My friend Milt Raymond built a backwards facing bicycle to test his concepts. He was also working with bicycle stability and designed a bike to go as slowly as possible and still remain upright.

Milt was an MIT-trained nuclear engineer who saw the light and worked on safety issues in car and bicycle transportation. His car was a modified Cadillac hearse (like the one in the original Ghostbusters decades before that film came out), modified by adding aircraft seat harnesses and armored plating for crash resistance.

Milt was an original.

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I also have to wonder about the road-feel of a large vehicle as compared to a small one. Though I suppose any inertial forces would still be reversed from the expected and therefore confusing. If the driver could be successfully isolated from such influences I don’t think it would matter if they were also upside down while driving, it wouldn’t be any different from remotely operating a vehicle or playing a video game at that point.

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The thing that got me laughing was when he was driving around the building and the showed the outside cameraman – on a skateboard! That just tickled my funny bone.

There’s always the approach from The Gods Must Be Crazy. (Context: a Kalahari tribesman with extremely little knowledge of automobiles has to bring a vehicle to the rescue but has no idea how a gear shift works so has to drive in reverse)

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Came to mention a similar experiment that Destin at Smarter Every Day did. He has a bicycle where the function of the handlebars is reversed. It makes the bike completely unrideable to a magnitude that is unintuitive large. After eight months(!) of effort he managed to learn to do it, just barely, for short distances. It’s a great story:

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I wonder if this could be improved with VR tech? /s

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