From the edi­tor

NZ4WD - - CON­TENTS - Ross MacKay, edi­tor.

Driv­ing dy­nam­ics

What’s this? An­other month, and an­other NZ4WD columnist ( this time the man be­hind TorqueTalk Ash­ley Lu­cas) pens a pas­sion­ate plea against driver­less or au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles.

Must be some­thing in it then. And in­deed, there is.

The prob­lem, if there in­deed is one, is not in the ve­hi­cles them­selves, or even the tech­nol­ogy that al­lows them to do what they do. It’s in the way the bloody things are be­ing mar­keted.

I can’t think of a time, in my life­time any­way, where there has been such a ‘ dis­con­nect’ be­tween the re­al­ity we live, and the fan­tasy mar­keters are foist­ing upon us.

The best ex­am­ple I can think of, is the 1950s, when cars looked more like air­craft ( or air­craft car­ri­ers in the case of the ’ 59 Cadil­lac four- door) and in ‘ the fu­ture ( i.e. now!) we would all be fly­ing gy­ro­copters to work.

Of course, that didn’t hap­pen. And it’s my hum­ble opin­ion that talk of us all be­ing in driver­less and/ or au­ton­o­mous cars by the year 2030 is as fan­ci­ful.

The prob­lem is the me­dia. And it has been ex­ac­er­bated by the swathe cut through tra­di­tional chan­nels ( news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines, broad­cast TV, etc).

All used to have elab­o­rate for­mal and in­for­mal checks and bal­ances which eval­u­ated ‘news’ for in­ter­est, ob­jec­tiv­ity and ( quaint as it might sound) public in­ter­est.

These, it would ap­pear, have gone the way of the Dodo, once hugely prof­itable me­dia com­pa­nies now los­ing money hand over fist and ( as a con­se­quence) get­ting rid of lay­ers of back­room staff and re­plac­ing ex­pe­ri­enced se­nior re­porters with kids straight out of col­lege.

The lat­est man­i­fes­ta­tion of this flip-flop are fab­ri­cated ‘ false-news’ sites which spread like dandil­ion seeds in the wind via Face­book. While they might ‘ look’ like sim­i­lar ‘ le­git­i­mate’ news sites ev­ery story is a fan­ci­ful con­struct cre­ated by its au­thor, based, usu­ally round some fig­ure cur­rently in the global lime­light, like US Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump.

While I’m not say­ing that ‘ driver­less’ or au­tonomously driven cars fall into this par­tic­u­lar boat I am say­ing what is miss­ing in all the hy­per­bole is plain, sim­ple old com­mon sense.

Where once we would have been ‘pro­tected’ from the full frontal as­sault on our senses which is a highly-funded and strate­gi­cally planned cam­paign to soften us up, we are now be­ing hit – re­peat­edly and at point blank range – via the very me­dia out­lets which once ( and not very long ago at that) would have prided them­selves in sort­ing the wheat from the chaff on our be­half.

All this tech is all very well. But with one of the old­est car ‘ fleets’ of any de­vel­oped na­tions, one of the most rudi­men­tary na­tional mo­tor­way net­works ( i.e. gen­er­ally city- only) and with one of the high­est pro­por­tions of un­sealed to sealed roads, driver­less or au­ton­o­mous cars are only ever go­ing to be an odd­ity here in the fore­see­able fu­ture.

Don’t write them off com­pletely though, be­cause as own­ers and pas­sion­ate users of 4WDs we al­ready ben­e­fit from a lot of handy hi-tech like anti-lock brakes, trac­tion con­trol, up and down hill as­sist, etc.

The bot­tom line?

There’s al­ways go­ing to be some sort for re­sis­tance to change, we’re only hu­man. Yet we’d be cut­ting our noses off to spite our faces if we ig­nored EV­ERY­THING new or dif­fer­ent that comes our way.

What we have to do in this case though, is keep our guard up, be­cause when it comes to hype, the force around driver­less and/ or au­ton­o­mous cars is strong, and get­ting stronger each and ev­ery day!

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