Keep Your Autonomous Car & Get Off My Lawn While You’re At It!
By Anthony “Mario” Crea
There has been an enormous amount of R&D being thrown at the development of autonomous vehicles in the last decade or so. The introduction of new technologies such as adaptive radar-based cruise control systems and blind spot monitoring were but incremental steps towards the ultimate goal of creating a self-driving car. Each company that is involved has its own approach towards this future hell on wheels, but one thing is for certain, vehicles controlled by humans is going to be around for a long time to come.
Indeed, driver training and preparedness should be advancing instead of taking a stagnant approach in the hopes that the HAL 9000 controlling it all will bring us to our local coffee shop. Why? The answer comes down to sheer numbers. There are over 1.2 billion registered cars on the road worldwide. That’s a lot of drivers. Yes, some are better at controlling a vehicle than others, but to see a completely autonomous integration would mean the price would have to be tantalizingly good, as in $1999 in order for there to be the kind of global frenzy proponents hope happens.
Hope exists that a transportative utopia in which efficient little electric pods whisk people to their destination will develop, thereby replacing the vulgar vehicles we use now. Supposedly, these newly autonomized disciples will be euphoric because they’ll be less stressed and flush with cash from not having to pay car insurance any longer (like that’ll ever happen!) This will supposedly be possible because a linked computerized grid will coordinate and orchestrate all the vehicles, preventing accidents… Until, that is, some pod strands a guy while on his way to pick up a woman for their first date. Said angry man happens to be a hacker at Anonymous. Said hacker is now pissed and the whole networked system shits itself worse than an infant with diarrhea.
Perhaps we’re focusing too much on the negative; there will be legitimate uses for such vehicles. The disabled and the elderly will benefit greatly from the freedoms too many of us take for granted on a daily basis. Hopefully some poorly skilled drivers will realize it’s in their best interest (from a safety standpoint) to leave the driving to a computer, as will the person driving a 2002 Saturn L100 who feels driving is a pointless chore to begin with.
For many of us, driving is an escape from a world in which we are always connected, always on point, always accessible by someone when we’re somewhere. Instead, driving should be a time to enjoy the interaction that exists between man and machine, experiencing the feedback between the road & the steering wheel, or the giggle-inducing reactions the car makes based on judicious input from our right foot. It invigorates the soul and helps us redirect and refocus, making us better people in the long run…
Save humanity from ourselves. Go for a drive.