They’re Coming for Your Car Keys. Welcome to the World of Self-Driving Cars

They’re Coming for Your Car Keys. Welcome to the World of Self-Driving Cars

self-driving car - drivers licenseOne of my favorite jokes goes like this: “I got really drunk last night, so I decided to take the bus home. Now that may not sound impressive to you, but I’ve never driven a bus before.” Stop the Presses! Drunk drivers may soon not need to drive the bus – or their car – anymore. Welcome to the world of self-driving cars. They’re just around the corner.

Several tech companies like Tesla, Google and Apple are driving ahead with plans to mass-produce “autonomous” cars. These boring box vehicles are designed to ruin your happiness. If successful, they will all take away your freedom to cruise the open road at 90 mph, steering only with your knees, while singing Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ off-key at the top of your lungs with the top rolled down. We need to slam the brakes on this effort. Our forefathers, who guaranteed the right to drive in the Bill of Rights, would be mortified at this attack on our this fundamental constitutional liberty.

If these tech companies succeed, it’s only a matter of time before other companies will start manufacturing self-cleaning ovens, self-navigating vacuum cleaners or even self-playing pianos. Today they’re coming for your car. Tomorrow they’ll be coming for your kids. Read my argument in fierce opposition to the freedom-crushing future of autonomous cars.

Argument for autonomous cars: Autonomous cars are far superior drivers. They will never get distracted by what’s going on around them. They won’t feel a need to check out who just texted them or try to balance their McDonald’s drive-through meal on their lap, swerving as they reach for their French fries that just fell to the floor.

My rebuttal: Are you trying to impugn the greatness of our nation’s finest fast food chain? You really hate America, don’t you? And I would never get distracted checking text messages while driving. I’m usually far too busy staring at my rearview mirror and shouting at my daughters, who are arguing with each other in the back seat about what video to watch on the minivan monitor.

Argument: Autonomous cars will dramatically lower automobile injuries and fatalities. If only 10% of U.S. vehicles on the road were self-driving, it would reduce car accidents by over 200,000 and save over 1,000 lives per year. If 90% of vehicles were self-driving, it would save 22,000 lives annually. (more…)

Everything I needed to know about life I learned from my car

Everything I needed to know about life I learned from my car

America is a nation obsessed with its cars, especially us males. Ever since my Y chromosome muscled out that wimpy second X one, I was pre-destined to fixate on buying my next car. Since college, I have owned eight cars, and every one of them has taught me a valuable life lesson. (Click on the links below to see exact replicas of each car I owned – down to the color.)

My Volvo (1968 model year) taught me a lesson in humility. A guy I knew in college dared me to a drag race on a stretch of highway. He had a Corvette. It did zero to 60 in 5.2 seconds. My six-year old Volvo did zero to sixty, well… eventually. By the time I reached the finish line, the other dude was in a different zip code – mocking me from afar. A humbling experience. Volvo has always had a reputation for building safe cars. After my humiliation, I could only conclude it must be because few Volvo owners ever have enough time on their hands to attain dangerous speeds above 20 mph.

My Chevy Malibu (1973) taught me about Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. I received a firsthand education on the complexity of automobiles and just how many different components could break down, including the antenna, the door lock, the radio, the non-electric windows, and the clock – and that was just on my test drive. And I also learned that not all car horns sound the same. When my horn died (who knew car horns died?) the repair shop apparently found a replacement horn by stealing it from a pink Schwinn bicycle previously owned by a six-year old girl.