Self-Driving Cars Are Here to Stay

Megan Ray Nichols
October 20th 2016

Don’t look now if you’re someone who enjoys driving. Blame Elon Musk, blame Google, blame Al Gore… but there’s no escaping the fact that, in just a few short years, we’ll all be coddled from one destination to the next inside shiny, smart transportation appliances. And you thought holding out hope for a stick-shift was audacious.

Here’s the thing, though: what’s that first ride going to be like? The first time you switch on your self-driving car, punch in your coordinates and cruise off to the soulless thrum of an electric motor you’ve got to wonder: does this thing know what it’s doing?

Sure, research says we have nothing to worry about. We’ve read our Isaac Asimov well and programmed our cars so they never willingly harm us. Still, you can’t help but feel a little helpless. What if you disagree with a choice the car makes, or it sends you down a toll road and you don’t have any cash. What then?

Thanks to German scientists, we know now that the apprehension fades quickly for most people. Of course, Audi, BMW and Mercedes were three of the first brands to explore automated navigation, but that’s probably got nothing to do with it.

Imagine, fifty years from now, a classic, manually steered pickup without internet connection rolling up to the auction block. It’s the last of its kind. Only those of us who saw this coming can even remember how to use it, but that’s illegal - this one’s for show only.

Sources: NPR, Ieee Spectrum. Image: Tesla

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