The Case for Self-Driving Cars Becomes Clear

Self-driving cars, Google

I used to think that the advent of self-driving cars would be the downfall of society. I thought they’d take away our freedoms and turn us into mindless commuters.

I imagined people inside their smart vehicles, each buried in his or her smartphone, while the cars silently flow through interstates and arterials like ants slowly marching toward their queen.

Orderly. Efficient. Conforming.

I’m not the kind of guy who likes to conform. I don’t want to be just one of a billion ants locked into a life of mindless existence, thus my resistance to autonomous vehicles and a future where individuals must fall into line.

I think I’m starting to get it, though. Here’s why.

My house is a 45-minute drive from the places in the city I like to go. My mom’s house, my wife’s mom’s house, the office, downtown, Costco…you name it. If I’m out somewhere, odds are good that I have a 45-minute drive to get home.

That gets a little old, and there’s a lot I could be doing with those 45 minutes. I’m usually the driver in the family, but the other day I had some work to get done, and my wife volunteered to take the wheel so I could grab my phone and do some writing.

In what seemed like the time it takes to blink a few times and tell the kids to stop making incessant noises with their mouths, we were home, and I’d managed to get a great head start on work for the night.

It occurred to me that if I could do that every day, on every car trip, I’d gain an hour and a half every time I had to make a trip into the city. I’d be more efficient, I’d have more time with my family in the evenings, and I wouldn’t stress about traffic.

I know that mass-market autonomous cars are years away still, but I at least have more of an appreciation for why automakers (and Google) are pushing to develop them.

Maybe the time will come when we can get into our vehicles, program a location into the computer, and let the great computer in the sky lead us safely to our destination while we focus on things more worthy of our time.

I’d be one of the ants, but at least I’d be an ant who gets stuff done. Hopefully that would leave enough time on weekends to take out the Porsche and exercise some individuality.

Can you see yourself owning a self-driving car?


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