I was four hours into our journey from Virginia to Ohio. My wife and son were both asleep and I was listening to a ballad of road noise. The Mazda5, on loan to me from Mazda, is an excellent family vehicle, but all that extra space and glass turn the interior into an asphalt orchestra above 60 MPH.
As my eyes neurotically patrolled from hood-to-horizon on the never-ending treadmill of highway, I had an epiphany; I want an autonomous vehicle.
Like any other car junkie I enjoy driving, yet lately driving has become more of a fantasy than a reality.
We all share the same mechanical erotica; man and machine conquering barren paths of winding road as currents of air whisk intoxicating aural frills of exhaust into the cabin. Motoring Nirvana.
This is all a dream. Life isn’t filled with open roads and curves. There is nothing erotic about idling at 4 miles an hour across the 14th Street Bridge in DC or driving in a straight line for 9 hours across Kansas.
We want to believe that every time we start our car we are embarking on an enchanted expedition filled with the wonderful treasure that is automotive transit. We know this is a lie, yet we believe it anyways.
Well, I’ve accepted reality and concluded:
Not everything behind the wheel is beautiful, so I’m happy to let it go.
Aside from the safety benefits associated with autonomous vehicles, I think it could lessen the monotony of certain driving situations that many of us prefer to avoid. I’m sure many of you will condemn me as The Anti-Car abomination and order me drawn and quartered by a fleet of barely-running rust-covered Scouts, and I accept that punishment.
But before my ultimate demise, I ask that you think about the benefits of autonomous vehicles, especially as it relates to situations like traffic jams and long stretches of straight road. While thinking of this I do have one question for you:
What are the top five non-sex-related activities you would enjoy while relishing in the freedom of an autonomous car?
Here are mine –
- Watch the road / Wait for system to crash: I’m skeptical as shit when it comes to technology. After spending so much time reading fatality data and reports, I’ll never trust another human and/or robot piloting me in a vehicle.
- Record myself thinking aloud: Some of my best ideas come to me while puttering around in traffic. If I could record me thinking aloud while on the road, I would produce 23.5 blog posts a day.
- Telework: If I worked at a place that allowed me to work-from-home, chances are I wouldn’t be in my car in the first place. But if I was, I would argue that any work I did while riding (is the driver in an autonomous car riding or driving?) counts towards my time in the office.
- Keep watching the road. This system is going to crash and I need to be Johnny on the Spot to save us all from eminent death.
- Browse Craigslist for automotive jewels to share on Oppo.
OK. Fire up the Scouts. I’ve said my piece.