SELF-DRIVING MY WAY
INTO THE FUTURE
If I was 12 years old right now, I'd be really unhappy.
Maybe it's just me, but when I was 12 years old, I distinctly
remember being very worried that by the time I turned 16 and was eligible
to finally have my driver's license and have the thrill of driving a car,
all cars would be driverless.
Even though that was in 1966, someone must have
predicted the future and I listened. And since turning 16 seemed very far
away, I figured my chances of spinning that wheel and pushing that gas
pedal were toast. And I wasn't happy about it.
Fortunately, one of my parents must have let me know I was an
idiot for thinking that driverless cars were going to happen anytime soon,
so I quickly resumed my eagerness to turn 16 and hit the road.
Now it's 50 years later, and driverless cars are right around
the corner. Any anxiety-ridden 12 year old existing today has good reason
to worry about never getting a chance to get behind the wheel. If your
family is fortunate enough to have a car, you might be going from Mommy or
Daddy giving you a ride to an invisible chauffeur doing the driving.
Either way, you'll still be in the passenger seat.
I guess you were just born a little too late, sucker.
As for me, I'm pretty sure I'm going to hold out for as long
as I can. I like driving. I like being in control. I don't want to share a
car, or always rely on driverless Ubers. I like owning my car. And most
importantly, I can't imagine ever trusting the technology of a driverless
I'm still grappling with cruise control. It's been around
since the 1958 Chrysler Imperial, and I just started using it about five
years ago. While I now use it all the time, I still feel slightly
uncomfortable with my foot so far from the pedals. Imagine the feeling of
sitting in the back seat with no one at the controls. Scary.
Of course, I don't understand how the picture appears on my
television screen, either, and I'm pretty comfortable watching television.
So it's conceivable I could become comfortable with driverless cars. A
little understanding might go a long way.
With that in mind, I scoured the internet in a quest to
answer all my questions. I started with the basic "How does a
self-driving car work," and learned all about radar, sonar, lasers,
cameras, maps, sensors and much more. Didn't help.
Then I asked some other questions: "How do self-driving cars
fill up with gas or recharge?" "How does a self-driving car know
where to park?" "How does a self-driving car know when the
police wants it to pull over?" "How does it recognize
sirens?" "How does it pass disabled vehicles?" "How is
it going to prevent being hacked and speed out of control?"
I got answers, none of which were particularly satisfying or
complete. No one can even agree whether they'll reduce congestion. There's
arguments on both sides.
In the end, after my exhaustive research (exhaustive by my
standards), I came to some conclusions which I'm now willing to share with
1) I still don't understand how the picture appears on my
2) Whoever used cruise control on that 1958 Chrysler Imperial
was a very, very brave person.
3)There are a lot of people out there that are a lot smarter
4) If there's any 12 year olds that are fretting about not
having a chance to get behind the wheel in four years, rest assured you're
going to have a shot.
5) I'm a long, long way from placing my trust in a driverless
I'm also no longer 12 years old, though. While I still love
to drive, I've noticed that as I get older I find it much more common to
want to fall asleep while driving. That's probably not a good thing.
In fact, I was motoring down 280 just the other day, cruise
control in full swing, and my eyes began to droop. I couldn't shake the
tiredness, and had to pull over for 20 minutes. If only, I thought, I
could have put it in driverless mode.
We've had cruise control for 58 years. Maybe it's time for
something new. Bring on the self-driving cars. Just like television, who
cares if I understand it.