Cars driv­ing them­selves. Could there be any­thing worse?

Evo India - - DRIVEN - by OUSEPH CHACKO @ousephchacko

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

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