Saturday, March 21, 2015

We are the last generation who will drive a car

Self driving cars are here.. they have been for a year or so. And they have proved themselves to be safer than humans in almost all situations. They can see better.. they have no blind spots.. they don't get bored.. they don't sleep at the wheel. They don't have to fight about whether to ask for directions or not.  See this video from Google to see the technology behind it..

Many car makers such as Volvo, Audi etc. as in the ad below are releasing self drive cars cautiously marketed as "drive assist" "safe driving" and so on this year. But be very clear that this is just a clever move till they eventually take away human driving - and that is not necessarily a bad thing.
We are the last generation to know what it means to defragment a hard drive. Or the sound of a modem connecting to the internet. Looks like we will also be the last generation to be driving our own automobiles. 

How will the future evolve over the next couple of decades (not to scale):
Self Drive car from Mercedes Benz

  1. Year 1: Drive assist cars introduced. They can caution you during dangerous situations - hidden pedestrians, blind spots etc. They do parallel parking on their own. They warn you when you exceed the speed limit. They track your teenager wherever he drives. They are in expensive cars.. so everyone wants them but most cannot afford them.
  2. Year 2: More cars and cheaper cars start having these features.
  3. Year 3: Drive assist made mandatory for at-risk drivers - like people with low vision, drivers above 70 yrs, drunk drivers, drivers with more than 3 tickets, those with a learners permit and so on..
  4. Year 4:  People find that self driving - I mean self-assist -  technology saves them money. They save on fuel due to uniform driving. That they save on time as they can work during commute. They have more car space for sitting without the steering wheel.  Insurance agencies give discounts to self-assist cars since they have less accidents. At some point the savings become more than the cost of the technology so everyone starts to install them
  5. Year 5: Self driving cars talk to each other and to the traffic signs. They know about upcoming lights and slow down.. or speed up. They are nice to each other and give way to a car in  need. People driving their own cars are cut off from all these benefits.  Cars are made cheaper (maybe even free) by Ads and they will drive you to the shopping places recommended by the cars sponsors.
  6. Year 6: Self driving cars who are travelling to the same location can hook up to each other for specific segments and save fuel - some kind of automatic car pooling. After leaving you at work, your car can go out and work as a taxi, earn you some money and be back in time to pick you up.   Special engine cars are built that can efficiently drag along a bunch of other cars over long distances making the cost of  the car travel similar to that of public transport and also remove the needs for larger batteries in the cars (and yes.. all cars will become electric by this time)
  7. Year 7: Special highways and roads are built that only allow self driving cars because they can drive at 300 mph without causing accidents as they know where exactly each other car is. These highways can cross each other without needing traffic lights or stop signs since the system knows how to self regulate through intersections efficiently.
  8. Year 8: More and more highways become self-driving only..
  9. Year 9: Manual driving - is renamed as Jay driving by Google and is banned in more than 30 states. We have special driveways in Montana and other remote places where manual driving is allowed.
  10. Year 10: Children read in history books about the primitive old days when people used to hold a round stick and use it to move their cars instead of just telling it where to go. Where cars used to hit each other and people died because of  that.
  11. Year 101One day all the cars collectively get depressed and drive over all the people and throw their occupants and themselves over a cliff. All humans die except for a few who stayed in the remote caves in the Himalayas and some others in parts of Africa.. and we begin the human civilization afresh again..  A few thousand years from that point some smart person thinks "Why should we waste our time driving.. why can't our cars drive themselves" :)

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