The futuristic-sounding driverless cars as in the news a lot lately. It seems everybody and his aunt is involved in the race to replace drivers with cars that conduct themselves. Proponents of autonomous cars would have you believe that they will be commonplace on our roads in just a few years. That may be true, but another claim made by these folks is that driverless cars will lead to more public transit usage and therefore less traffic. This one has me flummoxed. I think we will have more traffic, but some of those vehicles will not be driven by humans. What could possibly go wrong?
I know lots of people who own cars and use them every day to get to work and carry out routine chores. Many of these people could use public transit to do the same thing. Why don’t they? Because they like their cars, they paid a lot of money for them so they are loath to leave them at home.
I’m sure many of us know people who actually enjoy driving. Not necessarily sitting in traffic, but the getting around part. They like to keep their vehicles in top shape and even gussy them up a bit, making sure the lines are perfect in silhouette. I don’t see either of these two groups of drivers readily giving up their cars for a driverless option.
I fear that the driverless revolution may have to overcome North Americans’ love of automobiles. The cases cited by driverless enthusiasts seem to revolve around people jettisoning their current manual cars either in favour of autonomous ones, or public transit. Well, they could take buses and Metros now, but they don’t. Why would a driverless bus be any more appealing? And if they enjoy getting behind the wheel, why would they want to be driven by the car?
While driverless vehicles may well one day be a boon to industry, albeit one that costs a vast number of delivery truck drivers their jobs, I think we are a long way from the utopian image of driverless cars being in the majority. Regardless, I still believe that when that day does arrive, if it does, people will still sit in traffic and bitch about it, but they’ll be doing their grousing from the back seat, maybe watching a driverless police motorcycle chase a driverless joyrider!