11 March 2016

The Self Drive Car

It seems inevitable that cars will eventually drive by themselves and all occupants will be passengers. Of course, for now they say a driver will need to be on hand to intervene on occasions, but that is only because the automatic system won't cope with every scenario. One day it may get close enough to achieving that and driving will be banished as too dangerous in the hands of the general populous.

However, most will find the way these automated cars move around too cautious and sensible. So I propose cars that will be able to be set to types of driving. Other cars will get feedback on the your car's setting and react accordingly. Here would be the options on the selector dial:

Geriatric: As the name suggests, the car would be driven like someone who's in the twilight of their driving career. In fact, this is how self-drive cars are currently performing, so this would be the default setting. Slowing down as traffic lights approach lest they change colour and a solid braking effort is required. A cautionary tap on the breaks whenever a bend looms or anything slightly taxing of its computing power. Safety first if this setting is chosen.

Sprightly: One turn of the knob and the car starts to act perkily. Acceleration is now actually noticeable and traffic lights no longer treated with trepidation. On a motorway even lane changing occurs to improve ones position rather than just on entering and exiting, as will happen in the default setting. Safety is still paramount but so is getting from A to B in a mental state above comatose.

Running Late: Ah, this is something that happens from time to time, and for some people it's their modus operandi. Therefore an essential option. Acceleration is harsh and braking comes late. The speed limit is quickly achieved and scrupulously adhered too once there. The horn automatically goes off whenever a slower vehicle (ie. in Geriatric mode) gets in the way. It has even a hand break parking manoeuvre in its arsenal, for arrival at your destination parking space.

Switch Off: This is controversial. Full control to a human driver. Of course humans are much better at driving than artificial intelligence will ever be. The problem is too many people do not respect the car enough and the potential dangers it poses. Male drivers - young ones especially - are particularly an issue. Testosterone and driving isn't a good combination. I'm thinking this setting may be on the 'endangered species' list so to speak.

Summary: I struggle to care much about the subject. I understand too many people die on the roads but also accept that's because some don't respect the responsibility that goes with driving. This allows the Nanny State to step in and take over. For now the best I can say is drive carefully and be considerate of other road users.

Is she really ready to take over if required?
If so, are her skills getting too rusty anyway?

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