Horse & Buggy

Are Driver-less cars the way forward?

Not the way I see it
Yes, the technology to move a car a short distance without a driver, and to avoid bashing into anything or anyone else is already with us. My understanding is that at the moment, speed is restricted to 25mph, and they cannot be used in fog or heavy rain, or snow.

I think it will be many, many decades before we see the end of the driver on our roads.
It’s one thing demonstrating a car without a driver on a test track, but quite another having three million on the go at once in a city like London.

The main problems will be the cost, which I can see being prohibitively expensive, the practicality of having some driverless and some driven cars mixing it up together for goodness knows how many years, and whether the technology could ever cope with replicating the way we have to drive.

For instance, at busy junctions, we have to slowly try and edge our way into the never ending stream of traffic. The computer-driven car will sense that this is conflicting and dangerous, therefore will stay there all day!

Or, conversely, because there will no longer be any traffic lights, busy junctions will be automated to make sure cars cannot collide. Imagine travelling at 50mph towards a junction, with cars coming at the same speed from your left and right towards the junction. They won’t collide because the computers will not let them. But would you fancy that sensation of continual near-misses?? I can imagine that half of any car journey would be the passenger screaming “Nooooooooooooooo…..”

And then what happens when there is a collision – who is guilty? Who do you sue for compensation?
With billions of pounds going into driverless car research, I think that kind of money should be diverted Roger Barainto upgrading all public transport, and encouraging a better lifestyle including making it safer to walk run and cycle. That would be greener, and the health and prosperity of all of us would improve considerably.

And then we wouldn’t need a car, with or without a driver.


This is already decided

  • GM says it will have a ride-sharing service featuring its line of self-driving Chevy Bolts ready to go by 2019.
  • Driverless cars will be on Britain’s roads by 2021
  • Forbes: “Given the advanced state of driverless technologies and the amount of money being poured into the sector, there is little question—make that, no question at all—that within 10 years, driverless cars will be the norm.”
  • There will be 10 million driverless cars by 2020!

I know, sounds crazy, right?

Last night at dinner, we were talking and Roger said that he thought these cars would be too expensive at first.

I disagree and here are my thoughts: We will remove almost as much as we add. Instrument cluster – gone, center console – gone (no transmission shifter), steering wheel & equipment on both sides of the Firewall – gone, wipers & defrosters (you don’t need to see to drive) – gone, pedals and gear on both sides of Firewall – gone

Instead we may see an HD monitor in the 20 to 30 inch range and several small touch screens to control entertainment, destination, and air splashed about the car. Think airline entertainment/seat-back consoles.

The average American commutes for 18 minutes. It will not take long for the fifteen minute show to come to the fore. Netflix has already experimented with a short format Western. I didn’t care for it because about the time the show got interesting, it was over.

Some of us will use the commute each morning to start the workday. By the time you get to the office, several emails and calls have already been answered.

Your child wants to go play at a friend’s? Send the car. This will be a god-send for the elderly. It will not take the Supermarket long to figure out that they can load groceries in the trunk.

There will be real losers in this future. Your local radio station could be in serious trouble. We are watching the news instead of listening. The Gas Station could die because most of these cars will be Photograph of Dean Lewiselectric. Electric cars shed about two thousand moving parts; your mechanic may need a new job too.
However, the more I think about it, the more I can see ways these cars could make life better. Will people buy em’ over regular cars?
You bet’cha! 

To drive or not to drive?

Back in October 1996, when I was 21, I got my first car. It was a 1984 BMW 528i. Cherry color. Pretty old already, but still too powerful to me. I had my driver’s license but I actually couldn’t drive. 

I had been painfully doing my practice on Moscow streets. Then the snow fell. Icy, slippery roads, all that stuff. Finally, on December 14th, I made my first road trip to my work place. I was an account executive for a huge American advertising agency. For two days it was ok. It was 16 km to the office and 16km back. Seemed like infinity to me. I was felt like a fighter jet pilot before each drive.

The third day came and I was driving back home. It was slippery and I had bad tires. And it was a BMW, a rear-drive car. So, while performing a turn, I lost control, the car started to spin, and finally I ended up crashing into a tree. Several cars were behind me. They all passed me by. Nobody stopped to check out if I was OK. Well, it was 1996 and Russia was quite an unfriendly place at the time…
It was a trauma back then to me, both mental and financial. I restored the car and then sold it. I was happy to get rid of it, I was scared of it.

95 Grand Cherokee Orvis
1995 Grand Cherokee Orvis

Now, 21 years later, I happily drive a ’95 Grand Cherokee Orvis, an old but brilliant vehicle, full of charisma and a full-time four-wheel drive, so important in Moscow in cold seasons. Sometimes it breaks down, so I fix it. It is not about fuel economy at all. And it is old. But I like it. It is stylish. It is comfortable. It is safe. And it is very powerful with its 5.2L V8 Magnum engine and its roaring sound. It’s fun driving it. It is a part of what I am.

So do I want some vehicle that would bring me safely from point A to point B and I would be just enjoying it sitting in a backside having fun in some weird way? As if I was some happy hipster?? No. I Our Rusuk Blog writer Sergeywant to drive my car. Feel it. Hear its roaring sound. And… no fuel economy!

Old-fashioned? Not environmentally conscious? Maybe. But this is what I am. I answered my Shakespearian question.