Sex at 60 mph? Self-driv­ing cars could be bed­rooms on wheels

The au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles of the near fu­ture will be spa­cious enough for eat­ing, drink­ing, sleep­ing, work­ing, watch­ing movies and other typ­i­cal hu­man be­hav­iors — like hav­ing sex.

Miami Herald (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY LINDA ROBERT­SON lrobert­[email protected]­ami­her­ald.com

Some­day sooner than you think, your self-driv­ing car will lib­er­ate you from the steer­ing wheel, the brake pedal and the bad driv­ers that force the good ones to be hy­per-vig­i­lant road war­riors.

In your com­fort­able, safe, mo­bile room-on-wheels, you will be able to eat, drink, sleep, work, work out, watch a foot­ball game, stream a movie and have sex.

While sex in cars is noth­ing new — The Jour­nal of Sex Re­search found that 60 per­cent of Amer­i­cans have tried it — in­ti­macy in a hands-free au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle will be much less cramped than it would be in a lit­tle red Corvette, and much less con­torted than Meat­loaf must have been when he ex­pe­ri­enced par­adise by the dash­board light be­cause there will be no dash­board.

Com­puter-op­er­ated driver­less cars will be spa­cious enough for beds or sleep­ing pods. There­fore, sex at 60 mph would be a prime “so­cio-be­hav­ioral” out­growth of au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle use, says a new study on how the tech­nol­ogy will af­fect ur­ban tourism, nightlife and life­style.

“Hos­pi­tal­ity and the he­do­nic

night,” is the head­ing on the juici­est sec­tion of the re­port by Scott Co­hen, a pro­fes­sor of tourism at the Univer­sity of Sur­rey, and Deb­bie Hop­kins, a lec­turer on trans­porta­tion at the Univer­sity of Ox­ford in Eng­land, in which they ex­am­ine what im­pact au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cle (AV) in­no­va­tion will have on ho­tels, restau­rants, bars, clubs and events.

Co­hen said he ex­pects sex and pros­ti­tu­tion in AVs to be­come “a grow­ing phe­nom­e­non.”

“For in­stance, ‘ho­tels by the hour’ are likely to be re­placed by [AVs] and this will have im­pli­ca­tions for ur­ban tourism as sex plays a cen­tral role in many tourism ex­pe­ri­ences,” Co­hen wrote in The An­nals of Tourism Re­search.

While ride-hail­ing ser­vice AVs, such as those run by Uber and Lyft, “will likely be mon­i­tored to de­ter pas­sen­gers hav­ing sex or us­ing drugs in them, and to pre­vent vi­o­lence, such sur­veil­lance may be rapidly over­come, dis­abled or re­moved,” Co­hen said. “More­over, per­sonal [AVs] will likely be im­mune from such sur­veil­lance.

“Such pri­vate [AVs] may also be put to com­mer­cial use, as it is just a small leap to imag­ine Am­s­ter­dam’s Red Light Dis­trict ‘on the move.’ ”

Pros­ti­tu­tion is il­le­gal in the U.S. ex­cept for a few coun­ties in Ne­vada but is le­gal in dozens of other coun­tries. Where broth­els are pro­hib­ited, sex work­ers need a place to do busi­ness, and AVs could fa­cil­i­tate trans­ac­tions be­tween them and their clients.

As AVs be­come main­stream, which Co­hen pre­dicts will hap­pen by the 2040s, they’ll fea­ture a va­ri­ety of in­te­rior de­signs — and seat-belt con­fig­u­ra­tions — to suit the pas­sen­ger, and a pri­vate, cozy space for sex could be a big sell­ing point. Then there are the pos­si­bil­i­ties for cus­tomiz­ing the bed­cham­ber, which we won’t go into here.

Mi­ami-Dade County Mayor Car­los Gimenez en­vi­sions AVs as “rolling liv­ing rooms,” where peo­ple can sit face to face and so­cial­ize or even con­duct a meet­ing. Mercedes-Benz calls the leather and wal­nut in­te­rior of its F015 AV sedan a “lux­ury lounge” for peo­ple with “a grow­ing de­sire for pri­vacy” in a “dig­i­tal liv­ing space.”

“The car as we know it is go­ing to change com­pletely,” Gimenez said. “It’s a very dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy that is get­ting closer and closer to roll­out as these com­pa­nies race each other to re­fine it. I want to make sure Mi­ami-Dade is in the fore­front.”

And the next trans­port rev­o­lu­tion could come in the form of elec­tric fly­ing taxis, Gimenez said.

“Peo­ple said I’m crazy, but we’ve talked to a com­pany from Ger­many called Lil­lium that is de­vel­op­ing a five-seater that can take off and land ver­ti­cally and reach a speed of 185 mph,” he said. “Boe­ing may launch one next year.”

Gimenez took County Com­mis­sioner Es­te­ban Bovo on a test ride in an au­ton­o­mous Ford Fu­sion last week — ac­com­pa­nied by two hu­man backup safety driv­ers. Ford — one of 30-plus com­pa­nies vy­ing to hone soft­ware and sen­sors to get self-driv­ing cars ready for con­sumers — plans to be­gin sell­ing its first model by 2021. The com­pany has been test­ing a fleet in Mi­ami out of its Wyn­wood de­pot since Fe­bru­ary. Ford re­cently an­nounced a new part­ner­ship with Wal­mart that will en­able cus­tomers to have gro­ceries de­liv­ered by AV.

The con­ve­nience af­forded by driver­less cars will have mul­ti­ple reper­cus­sions on tourism and travel, Co­hen pre­dicts. He sees AVs and their sleep­ing oc­cu­pants stream­ing along high­ways at night to­ward their des­ti­na­tions rather than stop­ping at ho­tels. Volk­swa­gen is de­vel­op­ing an au­ton­o­mous cam­per van.

“Restau­rants may find them­selves in com­pe­ti­tion with [AVs] that be­come mov­ing restau­rants, or com­bine ur­ban sight­see­ing with din­ing — as ex­ist to­day with din­ner cruises,” he wrote. “Evening [AV] city tours may in this sense be­come more popular and be com­bined with in­creases in al­co­hol con­sump­tion as drunk driv­ing will no longer be an is­sue when rid­ing in an [AV].”

Imag­ine ex­er­cis­ing on equip­ment or a sta­tion­ary bike in­stalled in your car dur­ing your com­mute. Writ­ing emails on your com­puter. Com­plet­ing a cross-coun­try road trip in 57 hours straight (two men did it in a Tesla on auto pi­lot).

Aside from mak­ing travel time more pro­duc­tive, AVs also hold out the prom­ise of re­duc­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion, emis­sions, park­ing has­sles and the num­ber of ac­ci­dents (90 per­cent are caused by hu­man er­ror, and our descen­dants may be shocked that hu­mans were ever al­lowed to drive). Cir­cu­lat­ing AVs could re­con­fig­ure ur­ban space, as park­ing cur­rently oc­cu­pies one third of down­town real es­tate in many large cities.

On the down­side, AVs are ex­pected to in­duce de­mand for car travel, which will in­crease the amount of time peo­ple spend in cars and their will­ing­ness to com­mute longer dis­tances, thus en­cour­ag­ing sub­ur­ban sprawl and dis­cour­ag­ing use of pub­lic tran­sit.

Co­hen said hordes of

AVs at tourism hotspots could cause log­jams worse than tour buses do now, and AVs will put peo­ple in the tourism in­dus­try — par­tic­u­larly tour guides, bus sight­see­ing driv­ers and taxi driv­ers — out of jobs.

In­tel­li­gent, self-driv­ing ve­hi­cles will turn us all into pas­sen­gers and “change our cities at the same trans­for­ma­tive level that the iPhone changed com­mu­ni­ca­tions,” pre­dicts state Sen. Jeff Bran­des, R-St. Peters­burg, a cham­pion of the tech­nol­ogy to be show­cased at the an­nual Au­ton­o­mous Ve­hi­cle Sum­mit Nov. 27-28 in Tampa.

“A num­ber of en­chant­ments un­der­pin the of­ten utopic vi­sions of au­to­mated ur­ban fu­tures,” Co­hen said.

Driv­ing a car was a dis­tinctly Amer­i­can pas­sion. In the AV of the fu­ture, that pas­sion sim­ply gets trans­ferred to what used to be the back seat.

Ford

This au­ton­o­mous Ford Fu­sion is one in a fleet be­ing tested in Mi­ami.

Waymo

A Waymo Chrysler Paci­fica mini­van in Chan­dler, Ari­zona, where the com­pany is test­ing its au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles.

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