I am the first to admit that the road will be a lot better off when I am behind the wheel of a car that drives itself. I am a terrible driver. It’s True. Luckily I have only been involved in minor accidents (with stationary objects or rear-bumpers, most typically), but generally speaking I tend to be extremely disconnected or nervous and jerky or generally incompetent when operating a motor vehicle.
Like many people my mind tends to drift while I drive: “What does my schedule look like this week? What is the best approach for that proposal I have to write? Should I go ahead and book that vacation? Do I have stuff in between my teeth?”,etc. I’m also terrible with directions and am so fidgety that I can’t maintain a consistent speed to save my life. Most people who ride with me end up permanently scarred and / or nauseous.
Knowing that I may be an extreme case of “meant-to-be-driven” individuals, but all the same one of many who would be better off not being in charge of a vehicle, I will say that the self-driving car is probably going to end up being the innovation of the new Millennium. However, what does taking the task of being present while driving out of the hands of the vehicle operator really mean for our society? The infographic below lists a host of benefits related to safety, time and money…all of which are important. But it stands to reason that the time / money savings alone will reinforce a culture of multi-tasking and hurry-up-and-wait that may or may not benefit us as a culture.
One might ask why we don’t just convert to more of a telecommuting culture rather than requiring us to actually drive to work? One might answer that it’s actually important for us to interact with other humans at a physical work place to maintain human ties within the business world and keep it from becoming so intensely impersonal that we all end up being IP addresses rather than valued personnel. I’ll buy that.
One might say that it will also usher in a culture of mobility for those who would normally not be able to easily participate in a lot of the activities life has to offer because they can’t drive or drive safely: such as those who are unable to walk, use their limbs, see, hear or are just elderly and limited in range of motion. It could mean that we begin to see more of the value all humans have to offer – getting rid of arbitrary discrimination based on physical ability. That’s a plus in my book.
Could it mean that we begin paying more attention to media while we are on the road, as opposed to requiring ourselves to actually pay attention to traffic? Does that mean we will see and hear more marketing on our daily commutes? Does that also mean we will see a dramatic shift in our roadside landscapes to accommodate a more interactive and intense advertising environment?
Perhaps we will end up with a more well-rested culture? Will commuters now be able to have the benefit of a little extra sleep on the way to work?
Maybe more corporations will begin subsidizing vehicles as they become mobile workspaces: hundreds of thousands of people could be participating in conference calls and sending emails on their way to work. Do we then get raises for working more hours?
The possibilities are endless and the innovation is absolutely intriguing.
What do you think it will mean for our world?
Here are some of the facts as trending on Twitter (thanks to insurancequotes.com)
- Self-Driving Cars: Previews of a Signless Future? (parkingsigns.net)
- Volvo plans self-driving cars in 2014, envisions accident-free fleet by 2020. (engadget.com)
- Notes from the Driverless Car Summit (motortrend.com)
- Life Is A Highway…. (roxcell.wordpress.com)
- Toyota previews self-driving car (bbc.co.uk)
- Why Young People Are Driving Less (motortrend.com)
- Legal Infrastructure for Driverless Cars, and Comparisons Between the Law and Ethics of Self-Driving Cars and Autonomous Weapon Systems (volokh.com)
- Self-Driving Cars: Science Fiction Future Is Near (voanews.com)
- Human-controlled car beats self-driving car in race (vr-zone.com)