By Ben Guarino
It's a truism: If you create a scenario in which two willing people share a space that offers even the illusion of privacy, they will do sex stuff to each other. Vehicles are not exempt from this principle. The Mile High Club, to cite the prime example, was founded in the early 1900s by pilot Lawrence Sperry, who created a precursor to the autopilot system and promptly bet both his and a lady friend's life on it working. It did work and the next autopilot, the one set to drive our cars, will as well. That will free up time sure, but also our hands.
The inevitability of driverless car sex isn't just a consequence of opportunity. It's also a matter of tradition. In an essay in 1983's Automobile and American Culture, Ford Motors historian David Lewis highlighted the early years of car sex, describing flappers consummating their lust in Model Ts and a risque postcard from the '30s that depicted a woman asking her driver to use "both hands."
"If only the car would steer itself," the driver replied.
This is to say that even lecherous, pre-WWII cartoonists realized that when autonomous cars materialize, so does autonomous car sex. There is no question about "if" -- there are only questions about logistics.
How will this work?
People have sex in cars for all the same mundane or exceptional reasons they have sex anywhere else: It's thrilling; there's nothing better to do; they're getting paid; they're exhibitionists, or they've carved out a moment of privacy. The only difference here is that driverless cars will be in motion and, at least on highways, within sight of other cars. Presumably, the old euphemism, "parking," will be replaced with a new one: "commuting."
What sort of timeline are we talking?
That's the big question. The guiding principle behind the Google driverless car is that the computer is benevolently in control -- certain recent models even lack steering wheels. That being said, completely conking out in a post-coital interlude will remain illegal and inadvisable for the foreseeable future, if regulators have anything to do with it. (They have lots to do with it.)
Hands-not-completely-free, self-steering Tesla Model S cars are already on the roads. Drivers can take their hands off for a moment, but get beeped at until they at least stick a finger on the wheel. Have people done sex stuff under these conditions? Tesla declined to respond to a request for comment from Inverse. We don't blame them.
Will the sex be legal?
It depends on where you are and the local definition of public indecency. In the broadest sense -- that there's a chance, say, a school bus of fourth graders could catch sight of your junk -- it's verboten. But there's remarkably little legislature explicitly about automobile sex done in the privacy of a remote location. Nor are there troves of information about more discreet acts. When Jezebel tried to figure out where road head was allowed in 2008, they came up dry, but reported 13 states clinging to antiquated, anti-blowjob laws.
The gist of it is if you're caught, you can get charged with something. Whether that's indecency or prostitution or "crimes against nature" that's up to whomever busts you. That being said, sex regulations change; the Supreme Court overturned the last of the sodomy laws in 2003. It's difficult to picture lawmakers condoning car sex in the middle of a traffic jam. Tinted windows, an autonomous van, wide-open roads? Maybe.
What do auto manufacturers think?
If driverless manufacturers are smart, some savvy relocation of vestigial driving controls would go a long way in setting their cars apart. You wouldn't necessarily have to encourage whatever Biblical activity might go on, just advertise more legroom and headroom than the competition has. It's an ethos Volvo's "Concept 26" self-driving car has already taken to heart, even if there's no mention of other organs.
Do auto manufacturers care about sex in driverless cars? Are they treating it as an inevitability, or will there be no-sex warnings like we saw with Pepper the emotive robot? Like Tesla, Delphi kept completely mum. But a Google spokesperson tells Inverse the tech giant "has no official position."
You keep it spicy, Google.
Photos via Giphy.com/Jalopnik