Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime. – Chinese Proverb
It looks like the tech and automotive industries are teaming up to give drivers of the future fish. We’ve all read of Google’s Autonomous Car, and now I hear that Audi is working pretty heavily on car-to-car communication. If these ideas make it to production, we’ll never have to drive again because our cars will be capable of taking us where we want to go and all we’ll have to do is enjoy the ride. While we’re napping in what used to be the driver’s seat, the car will be communicating with the traffic signals, the roadway, and every other car on the highway. On the surface, there is merit to the idea. In fact, I know more than one person who I’d like to see be chauferred by a car instead of actually driving one. Since my daily commute borders on an hour and a half one way, I’d be more than happy on most mornings to have the luxury of sleeping through the journey. On the other hand, what will become of one of the things that made America what it is today; the pastime of driving for the sheer pleasure of driving? Also to be considered is the reliability and security of such systems. There are a lot of people out there that won’t see these modern conveniences until those first models are aged at least 10 years and their odometers are reading way above 100,000 miles. I know firsthand from dealing with the finicky speed sensors on my ’98 Grand Am how much fun chasing electrical problems on old wiring can be. I can also imagine the scenario of a terrorist attack which would involve the terrorist hacking into the electronic signals and sending every car in New York City happily driving into the ocean. Sounds a lot more fun than flying a plane into a skyscraper doesn’t it? The biggest concern I have is losing the freedom of the open road, which is a basic part of the free spirit that made America great in the 50’s and 60’s. The individualism and inventiveness that drives the American car culture has created many a job and innovation in the past. Between the EPA and DOT, much of that creativity has been legislated into non-existence. According to www.technologyreview.com, the DOT will be deciding next year if they should mandate this communication technology. No way of knowing yet, but it’s got to be a significant addition to the purchase price of a car. Just another way for the poor to get poorer too. It’s a shame we can’t get back to a simple, reliable, and inexpensive car that anyone could afford with a little effort. Not to mention learn to actually drive the thing responsibly instead of having the government legislate their transportation needs. I’m not totally against this technology because I can see where it would be beneficial in a city driving environment, but if it’s mandated across the board, it has the potential to be a major problem for the majority of rural America. Depending on car-to-car communication for safety won’t fare too well when critters of various sizes suddenly jump into our path. This is just one example where learning proper driving techniques trump any kind of technology. Like I said in an earlier post, people are becoming stupider by the day. Now we’ll forget how to drive too.