[Short Reads] My wife’s car is a little crazy when it comes to safety. Her Subaru has what I call a tattle-tale sensor on it that alerts you and everyone else in the car that you have left your lane. Pretty neat safety feature I guess. But with that all-seeing technology, the car also constantly monitors the distance to the car in front of you. Still not the cray-cray you expected I mentioned earlier, right?
Well, the ‘distance-o-meter’ also alerts the braking system...and this is where heart attacks can happen. If the Subaru thinks the distance between you and the car in front of you is closing too quickly it will apply the brakes. Now the difference between my experience of what is too quick and that of the Subaru’s is where we have conflict. On two separate occasions when I was not expecting the car to take over the Subaru had a different opinion and applied the brakes suddenly. Talk about needing to have a change of clothes. And after everyone else in the car finishes rubbing out the whiplash you get the, “oh, you’ve never been taught how to use the brake? Bless your heart.”
Now, cars that detect danger and nearly drive themselves, it's not a terrible thing. It's just a different thing. And different can be hard. I expect that over the next decade the technology Subaru puts in their cars today will be standard in all new cars. The obvious next step following this would be a driverless car. There are already a few different companies putting in the work to be the first driverless vehicle to safely negotiate city streets. Kroger Co. is working on a driverless grocery delivery car.
As fast as technology is changing these days, it makes me wonder if my son’s generation could be the last to take part in the ‘permit picture’ that many 15 years olds are forced to take for their slightly scared and very proud parents. Instead of “this just happened. watch out, my kid is driving” photo could future kids have to settle for their first pressured photo titled “this just happened - my son just took his first solo ride in the family transport”
Autonomous cars can affect a lot more than just teenagers no longer driving on their own. Imagine a highway system where cars stay perfectly spaced and speeds are constant.
- No more accidents? Cars constantly adjust to their surroundings
- No more highway patrol? If the cars are running efficiently together then maybe speeds might increase but they all would likely observe the speed limit
- No more car chases? Imagine a bank robber jumping into a car and saying “GO!” but the car sits there or politely waits for a safe time to enter the stream of traffic.
- No more agitated dad screaming at his kid while teaching them to drive? “No, your other right, Billy!!!”
- No more mom jamming an imaginary brake through the passenger floorboard.
- No more running out of gas on the first date.
It's not all bad news. Honestly, I’ve seen many of you out there...driving around acting. I’ll take a crazy robot car that I fear may kill me over some of you driving next to me any day.