Autonomous, Schmonomous: I Want to Drive My Own Car


I'm all for innovation. I love new gadgets. My mantra is "up with technology." Still, I do foresee problems, or shall we call them challenges, with a new invention that's careening out of the pages of science fiction novels and onto the raceways of our neighborhood highways: the Driverless Car.

The Driverless Car (also known as the "autonomous car") worries me. I'm terrified it will change my whole outlook on getting from one place to another. I mean, I love driving. I really do. Ever since the nice motor vehicle man (my friend's cousin) passed me the sixth time around and I finally got my license, I've thrilled to the feel of the engine under my foot, the wind in what's left of my hair, and the freedom to go wherever I want without fearing the Uber driver may be an axe murderer on the side.

Driving is cathartic for me. On any given day, depending on my mood, the act of taking my car for a spin either soothes me, or helps me get rid of assorted aggressions. I might enter the car in a stinky mood, and meet up with some tailgater who, when I drive slowly, goes around and passes me, prompting me to yell out my window "Moron!" so that when I get to my destination, having relieved myself of my frustrations, I'm perfectly calm. As I said, I love driving.

Which segues me into a list of anxieties should this new technology become de rigueur:

So...if everyone travels in Driverless Cars ("DCs"), will the ride be super boring? After all, there'll be no interaction with other drivers. No screaming "Blockhead!" at those who cut me off, or "Idiot" at those who change lanes without signaling. Worse still, I won't be able to pump my breaks to scare the guy who's an inch away from my bumper either.

Okay, and will I still be able to honk like a berserk goose, curse, and make rude gestures, shouting "Are you blind?" to another DC if he/she/it malfunctions and goes through a railroad crossing or a red light? And will the other person's DC's yell back sarcastically that my DC "needs glasses?"

What if I want to rubber neck? Do I tell my DC to slow down so I can take in an accident or a person fixing a tire? And will my DC listen, or ignore me?

I also wonder will these new DC's have male or female designations? And will the female DC be worse/better at parallel parking and driving in general than her male counterpart?

Will having a DC mean I would actually have to TALK to my family/friends whenever we went anywhere? Or would we all just continue to sit there immersed in our smart phones?

Of course, privacy's an issue as well. Will the DC have a record of destinations? Will it keep track of how many times I go to the mall; or how many visits my husband makes to the pub? What about liability? If two or more DCs have an accident, will each be programmed to blame the other? And which insurance company will wind up footing the bill?

Will my family members be able to access these DCs? Suppose my teenager (if I had one) stole my DC code and summoned the car to take his friends to the Jersey shore to look for girls? Or what if Grannie demanded the DC take her to Foxwoods for high-stakes bingo? Why, even my cats could take a DC to the fish store--or Pets-R-Us when they have a sale on salmon or catnip. (Stranger things have happened)

Then, too, if I'm the ultimate hold-out, if I continue to drive my car myself. will mean DCs bully me, flash their lights, and try to run me off the road?

Yes, friends, a lot to ponder. And this is just the ornament on the hood. But, okay, so maybe I worry too much. I'm sure the DC geniuses will work out all the pings and knocks.

Meantime, I will happily pilot my own car, slowing to a crawl to irritate the honker behind me, shouting at morons and blockheads who don't use their signals, and using sly strategies to edge out the other guy for the last parking spot.

As I said, I love driving.