Cars driving themselves. Could there be anything worse?
Eautonomous cars these days so let me add my two cents. It is something I feel very strongly about.
I hate the idea of a car doing everything for you and I think it's boring, almost as boring as a Toyota Prius. To me, a car that drives me around takes away the one thing
I love doing the most in the whole wide world. You know that face a kid has when you take his candy away? That’s the face I make when someone tells me about the Google car successfully completing trials.
And then I drove the Audi SQ7. It has the ability to semi-drive itself on a public road and it is the first time I’ve been tempted to try the system out. The SQ7 uses a gazillion cameras, parking sensors and radar beams to read road signs, speed limit signs, traffic situations and the car’s current environment. It took me about 30 minutes to fully relax and leave the car to its devices.
It turns out that the system is brilliant. On France’s roads, all
I had to do was steer while the SQ7 picked out speed limit signs and automatically adjusted its speed. It braked to a halt at traffic signals, the stop-start system shut the engine off and it would restart automatically and move off when the light turned green. The big SUV obediently regulated its speed depending on what the car ahead was doing and it didn’t even come close to placing a wheel wrong. I also liked that it will steer itself into parking spots and you can see the value in something so big, automatically (and precisely) squeezing itself into tight places. On the whole, the system was very stress free and I will admit I was thrilled by the novelty of it all. And then I got bored. I found myself yawning after a while and I almost hit a kerb because my mind had so much less to concentrate on – the car was handling everything so well I almost forgot I was still in charge of steering.
That the system is so good worries me. I worry that soon, these systems will enable your car to go to the supermarket by itself and do your grocery shopping. Humans will then become so lazy and obese that everyone will need the assistance of hover chairs to move around, WALL-E style. Worse, these systems will soon get clever enough to hold us to ransom and take over the world like Terminator’s Skynet. You’re probably wondering what I’m smoking right now.
On a more serious note, I think the day isn’t far off when these systems get so good, governments will legislate humans out of the driver’s seat. The fallout of this is almost unthinkable.
Electronic nannies will not let you pull a handbrake turn when no one is looking. You won’t be allowed to corner harder than 0.25g and sons will never again be able to sneak out the family car without dad finding out.
It gets worse. Hackers will be able to murder you with the ToyotaBrakeFail#666 virus. They can also kidnap you with the HummerGoneWild#445 virus. Most dangerous of all though is that if the fully autonomous car becomes a legislated reality, I fear we petrolheads will only be allowed to disengage the system once the car recognises that you have arrived at a designated rally or racetrack. Gah!
Meanwhile in India, the Government will, in its typically knee-jerk, no-research-to-back-it-up reasoning, mandate autonomous cars. They will do this without building proper roads, lane markings and speed markings – all stuff that the autonomous car’s systems need to work well. What we will have is chaos. And a lot of fried silicon chips. Life as usual on the subcontinent then.
So, to Google and all those involved in trying to make a car follow rules, no thank you. As ‘awesome’ as the thing you are trying to develop is, I hope I’m never forced to use it. I think I prefer to stay sharp behind the wheel. ⌧ My heartfelt condolences to Nitin Rose’s family. My heartfelt condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones to our roads while those idiots in charge are busy renaming cities.
Hackers will be able to murder you with the ToyotaBrakeFail#666 virus