Autonomous cars

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Read an interesting article in an Engineering and Technology magazine (thanks Ken) where they posed some interesting questions. Do the cars of the future herald

No Driver

No Decisions

No Drama

No Fun

I must admit that the autonomous concept does not fill me with enthusiasm. I have been an ardent “driver” for too long. I have enjoyed my cars and driving them, right through to the fun involved in racing them. With my first race being in 1965, one would imagine that the “fun” factor would be diminished by now. But it’s not.

Looking into the future, I can see that autonomous cars are inevitable, but it amazes me that many of the illustrations are of “drivers” sitting there without a steering wheel. When the technology is sophisticated enough, then surely the old vis-à-vis will be the preferred seating arrangement, as after all, the driver is a bunch of 01 codes in a nice electronic box under the dashboard.

With no steering wheel or pedals, the manufacturers can now devise ways to make the interior environment safer for the occupants. Road accidents, we are told, will become very rare, and with a safety-designed interior, road deaths will become even less.

Interestingly, I came across a recent interview with Bob Lutz best remembered as the driving force behind the Chevy Volt and for the quotation “Global warming is a crock of sh*t.” He was asked about the future of autonomous cars.

Bob Lutz.
Bob Lutz.

A: As much as one side of me deplores it because I love to drive, when you look at the skills of the average driver, and the reaction times, and the incidence of alcohol and drug use as a factor in accidents, and the amount of national productive time that’s wasted in traffic jams, it is time to find a different solution.

Q: So what’s a driving enthusiast to do?

A: They will have to go to private racetracks. They’re springing up like golf courses. Those will be nice because they’ll be unfettered by regulations, since they’re not on public highways, and they will be the equivalent of riding stables and dude ranches now.

That fits well with me as on certain weekends I will be taking my manual everything Mk1 Ford Escort for a run around the Bira circuit.