Talk about driv­ing hands-free!

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - WEEKEND LIFE - Jan­ice Wells Jan­ice Wells lives in St. John’s. She can be reached at jan­[email protected]­pa­

I’m sure you’ve fig­ured out that I am a bit re­sis­tant (and dis­dain­ful of) to change for change’s sake. Ad­vance­ment or change that saves or im­proves lives is a bless­ing; if I’d got­ten cancer 20 years ago I quite pos­si­bly wouldn’t have made it to the fiveyear mark and ex­pe­ri­enced the joy of my grand­chil­dren.

On the other hand, I doubt you’ll find even 30-year-olds us­ing all the bells and whis­tles that are pro­grammed into to­day’s ap­pli­ances. Man­u­fac­tur­ers didn’t start mak­ing talk­ing fridges be­cause there was a need or a de­mand for them, but just be­cause tech­nol­ogy al­lowed them to, and of course charge more for them.

I was a bit du­bi­ous, if not hor­ri­fied, about the pos­si­bil­ity of driver­less cars. But make no mis­take about it; they’re com­ing. And you know what? I am hav­ing sec­ond thoughts as I be­gin to un­der­stand more about what self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy could mean to the world at large, young fam­i­lies and even to not-so-young fam­i­lies like New­man and me.

I sort of just pic­tured peo­ple sit­ting back and let­ting the car drive and my first re­ac­tion was fear. Then I think about some of the drivers on the road to­day and re­al­ize I would much rather face a driver­less car than a loaded weapon with an idiot be­hind the wheel. But I didn’t re­ally think about all the ram­i­fi­ca­tions un­til I read this sce­nario in the Huff­in­g­ton Post.

“Julie is an ER doc­tor at the lo­cal hos­pi­tal, on the 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift. She jumps in the fam­ily car at 6:30 a.m. and is at the hos­pi­tal by 6:50 a.m.

“Af­ter drop­ping Julie off, the car then heads home, ar­riv­ing in time to take Julie’s two chil­dren to their high school; one of them tosses their hockey equip­ment in the back of the car. The car then re­turns home to take Julie’s hus­band to the law of­fice where he starts work at 9 a.m.

“The car then swings by the school to take Julie’s daugh­ter to hockey prac­tice at 2:30 p.m., and then re­turns to the hos­pi­tal to pick Julie up. And so on.”

New­man and I have two cars sit­ting in the drive­way. Most days he goes up to Son No. 3’s foundry and makes him­self use­ful for a few hours. Many days, es­pe­cially in the win­ter, I stay home or go some­where with Daugh­ter No. 2 and one or two grand­chil­dren.

I hate shop­ping, but ev­ery few weeks Ja­nine and I make the rounds of the thrift stores. Some days I have an ap­point­ment. Some days I make a trip to the gro­cery store (and don’t even have to make a sep­a­rate trip to the liquor store any­more. How good is that?)

So you know darn well we could get along eas­ily with one self-driv­ing car. I’m not sure about the tech­nol­ogy, but I’d say in no time at all the car would au­to­mat­i­cally know the rou­tine: foundry, home, out some­where with me, home, foundry, home. We might be more in­clined to go out at night, but I doubt it.

I’m not much into cars. Ask me what kind of a car some­one drives and I’ll say a blue one or a small one. New­man can iden­tify a 50-year-old car at 40 paces. He’s sort of into cars but nei­ther his nor mine owe us any money. I’ve al­ways driven Hon­das (ex­cept for once when I suc­cumbed to a cool VW Cabri­o­let con­vert­ible). I was back to a Honda in less than two years. I’ve been driv­ing my present Honda for 10 years and it was five years old when I bought it. I would def­i­nitely be more in­clined to give a self-driv­ing car a chance if it was a Honda.

I won­der if you need a driver’s li­cence for a self-driv­ing car? That could be a game-changer, too. If it could pump gas I might be con­vinced, but then again by the time self-driv­ing is com­mon, cars might be all elec­tric.

No, wait a minute, we don’t want any­thing else elec­tric.

Wait an­other minute — it’s prob­a­bly not some­thing I need to worry about any­way.

I would much rather face a driver­less car than a loaded weapon with an idiot be­hind the wheel.


Here’s a ques­tion: do you need a driver’s li­cence for a driver­less car?

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