The future and the self driving car

Recently Google has been testing a self-driving car. The planned production model will not have a steering wheel. Everyone that I know wants one, including myself. Why? Imagine the convenience. I commute and with such a car, I would no longer have to worry about the traffic. I could sit back and read a book, sip my coffee, get a head start of the workday. I want one with a coffee maker and a microwave.

Do you remember a book/movie called ‘The Lincoln Lawyer’? In the book, the lawyer didn’t have an office. He did all his work in his car, chauffeured from appointment to appointment. With the introduction of the self-driving car, you can expect more such professionals in real life.

That got me to thinking about the implications of such a vehicle. ‘What if’ thinking if you prefer to call it that.

What would car insurance for such a vehicle be? On one hand, the vehicle would obey the speed limits, stop completely at stop signs, and obey the rules of the road. It would have better reaction time than a human being, never lose its temper or fall asleep at the wheel. On the other hand, do you trust a self-directing vehicle on city streets?

Today there are monitoring devices you have installed on your car. They evaluate the driver’s style in exchange to a break of up to 25% on insurance. Dash cams are becoming common for recording video of driving in case the driver needs a record of events. A self-directed car would contain both.

Think of the impact of self-directed vehicles on business. Taxicab companies could eliminate the expensive driver. For courier companies, and pizza delivery the car would also require an autonomous robot that could move from the car to the door. Those are almost with us now.

You see the impact. IF taxicab drivers are out of a job, then so would bus drivers, truck drivers, pizza delivery drivers and couriers.

Now some of the drivers might be for transit buses. However, if the self-driving car takes the sting out of commuting, why would anyone ride the bus?

Ahh. The dreaded DUI. If cars drive themselves, then we become passengers. Would a person need a driver’s license to command such a car? What about the drunk? If they could take an automated cab, why not their own self-directed car?

Ouch. Imagine the congestion as everyone returns to private vehicles to commute to work. I see more parking lots in the core of the city once more.

That is where my imagination breaks down. I can the self-directed car following a GPS map to go from my home to my office. However, I can’t image how the car would handle the parking lot. And there’s no steering wheel.

So in the near future, you will no longer need a driver’s license.

Then there is the horror writer in me. Imagine all those self-directed cars on the highway. What if they become sentient? Or more mundane, what if their software update creates a problem?