Thursday, April 23, 2009

More Reasons Computers Should Drive Our Cars

Computer controlled cars. No steering wheels. No pedals. No shifter. Get in and relax, enjoy the ride.

  • No more drunk-driving incidents. Think of how many lives would be saved
  • No more stress-related accidents. Go ahead, fight with your spouse.
  • No more distraction-related accidents. Go ahead, eat, pet your dog, talk on the phone.
  • No more watching idiots get in the way of fire trucks, ambulances, police en route to emergencies. Cars would automatically get out of the way.
  • No more rubber-necking hold-ups
  • No more car-jackings
  • No more car-thefts
  • No more traffic lights
  • No more speeding tickets
  • No more watching criminals outrun cops (where would they go?)
  • Greatly reduced chaparone needs
  • More productive passengers (driver can do other things now)
  • No more running out of gas (computer would know where you're going and whether it has enough to make it without stopping first to gas-up or power-up)

Imagine these scenarios as well...

  • Your car malfunctions and stops (aka "breaks down"). It knows another car is coming by without any occupants and advises you to stay calm and wait for another car to come by and "pick you up" to continue on where you need to go.
  • Your car sits all day in the parking lot at work, but your wife/neighbor/kid/brother/sister/mom/dad/whatever needs a ride while you're at work. No problem, they send a request to your phone. You approve it, the car starts up and drives itself over to pick them up and comes back to your office to park itself when done.
  • Reduced need for tow trucks, ambulances, paramedics, fire trucks, traffic police
  • Reduced need for insurance filings
  • Reduced crime (theft, carjacking, getaways)
  • Reduced death rates
  • More efficient traffic management and automatic rerouting
  • Safer roads

When you get down to it, automobiles have not really radically transformed from the 1930's. They still have gasoline-powered engines, the same basic form factor (body structure, doors, windows, mirros, dashboard, steering wheel, seats, trunk, headlights, etc. etc.). All we've seen are constant refinements. Even the hybrid concept isn't "new". That idea was kicked around half a century ago, but nobody cared back then. All of the problems mentioned above are directly attributable to humans and human operation of machinery. Why do we continue to accept this as the "best way"? It's stupid!

We agree that robots do a better job at handling tasks humans consider dangerous or tedious. Driving is dangerous and (mostly) tedious. We kill more people "trying" to "drive" cars than any other accident method known. Come on people: wake up. Let's push our "leaders" to get this going. We can put things on Mars and Venus. We can send things beyond our solar system. We can shrink circuit chips smaller than a human hair. Can't we do this?

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