When the general public dislike a particular idea but the spin doctors want to push that barrow, it’s interesting how they change the terminology to make it sound better and hopefully more acceptable.
I am referring to ‘ Driverless’ vehicles which seem to be pushed upon us under the guise of road safety. It seems that people didn’t take too kindly to the idea of driverless vehicles so they now call them ‘Autonomous’ vehicles which doesn’t sound as bad or risky.
I am pretty sure most of us drive off road for the enjoyment and satisfaction of enhancing our own driving skills over varying terrain and don’t relish the thought that technology is going to take the enjoyment away from us.
Also I bet that you also like ‘ driving’ on road and wouldn’t be so keen on being ‘ driven’ by an autonomous vehicle. In fact I have yet to meet anyone who is in favour of the age of driverless vehicles, certainly not young kids from back in the mid- 80s.
Many years ago I was out with a work colleague and his young son getting a couple of Christmas trees for ourselves and the office. We got talking about the Knight Industries Two Thousand car otherwise known as KITT from the TV series Knight Rider.
I said my then Series II Land Rover was just like KITT and could drive on its own and promptly left it in low 1st and stepped out and walked alongside with the door open. The poor kid immediately cried and was most upset at my ‘autonomous’ Land Rover. I doubt he will have changed his thinking even now.
There are even manufacturers developing prototypes to include off-road driving, including Land Rover. It is good to see Land Rover ahead in the technology stakes, but I do not like the idea one bit, especially as millions of dollars are being spent on developing technology that people do not want.
One of the new technology advances they are making for off road driverless vehicles is ‘Off road Connected Convoy’ when driverless vehicles in convoy communicate between each other in an off road setting. “if a vehicle drops
a wheel in a rut, the information is sent to all cars in the convoy”. Makes you wonder how we ever managed with just eyes, ears and common sense?
Vehicle manufacturers of autonomous technology are predicting that they will have such vehicles available within four to five years, if not sooner. These vehicles will not have steering or pedals, therefore a human cannot take over control, although there may be some which are termed semi-autonomous which may have these controls.
There are even reports that testing of autonomous vehicles will soon take place in New Zealand and a particular advantage of testing autonomous vehicles in New Zealand is that our legislation does not explicitly require a vehicle to have a driver present for it to be used on the road. According to our own Ministry of Transport, “So long as any testing is carried out safely, a truly driverless vehicle may be tested on public roads today”.
Apparently no special infrastructure is required, but I do wonder how they will get on at controlled intersections and the traffic lights; Who pays the fine when an Autonomous car runs a red light?
Another soap box I detest is that of electric cars and that they are supposedly ‘emissions free’ with owners and operators avoiding paying their share of road user charges. For diesel vehicles you have to pay a fee, in advance, based on the number of kilometres travelled and with petrol, the fee is built into the taxes we pay at the pump. But for electric cars
they avoid these costs and also have charging stations in the city where they can ‘plug in’ for free while they go for their lattes.
It certainly has been the case in Britain that electric car users got free electricity but now they are being charged a flat fee to top up, which seems to be more costly than a gallon of petrol for a small economical car based on how far it can travel for that cost.
When you consider that producing electricity actually costs in the building of wind turbines for so called renewable energy and that in the case of many foreign countries that build these electric cars they rely on nuclear power or burning coal and gas to produce electricity, the electric car is not very emission-friendly after all. And then what happens to the batteries when they come to their end of life? Just something else to throw in the landfill.
For me I have always had the enjoyment of driving, both on road and off road and I am not about to lose this pleasure because some researcher/ developer has to justify his existence.
I will continue to drive off road using the skills and techniques I have learnt over the nearly 40 years of driving off road. They will continue to get me away from the hassles of the built up areas and into the scenic and wonderful back country areas we have in God’s own country and for which we pride ourselves on.
Enjoy your summer four wheeling, while you can.
Where’s the fun or challenge in a driverless vehicle?