My mother in law formally gave up driving yesterday.
Yesterday, she turned her leased car back in. She no longer has a car to drive, although she still has her license. She does not intend to drive again.
For her and many other seniors, giving up driving is a milestone, and not a good one.
For many seniors, no longer being able to drive, either because of health issues or physical issues, also means giving up their independence.
My brother in law, who is developmentally disabled, has never driven, either.
So wouldn't it be a wonderful thing if we had self driving cars? The elderly, those with conditions that don't permit motor vehicle operation even with technological assistance, the developmentally disabled and even those too young to operate a motor vehicle safely but old enough to be transported without their parents could all enjoy a degree of independence. It would change a lot about the way we live.
We know that some, including Google, are working on true self-driving cars. But how long will it be?
It's all about...wait for it....autonomy.
How about a little thought experiment?
Let's say a self-driving car was announced tomorrow. Or even next week, or next year.
Would we, those of us who are used to controlling their own cars, ever be comfortable riding in such a car?
Would hackers and terrorists be able to take over these cars and cause massive destruction on the highway? It's already been done, in test situations, with cars not truly self driving.
It would certainly involve a transition period.
I can see a long period where, even if an actual self driving car hit the market, a person would still need to sit behind the wheel, and pay attention. But how many of us would just fall into our smartphones out of boredom and not be paying attention when the computer suddenly wanted to give control back to us?
I think, though, the time will come for self driving cars to be accepted, and it will be sooner than we think. And, in a matter of years, it will seem so natural to the generation growing up during the transition period that driving yourself, with all the imperfections in driving our human nature creates, would even become repugnant.
I remember reading a science fiction story as a teen (I am 63) about a man pulled over for driving - driving himself - and sentenced to the death penalty because he had taken control over from the self driving mechanism, and made a mistake in his driving.
I only wish I could remember the title, or the author.
What do you think about self driving cars?