By William Thomas
The driverless car is coming at us faster than Nick Nolte with his pedal to the metal and half a bottle of rum in his cup holder. The AV or automated vehicle is truly a transportation revolution and one for which the world is poorly prepared. Like the mad rush to get legalized marijuana on the streets of Canada and … wait! Can you imagine those two worlds colliding?
“Ah, dude. You just scarfed the last piece of pizza and also there’s nobody driving this car!”
“I thought Larry was driving.”
“Larry got out at the last set of lights.”
“Yeah, which we blew through!”
Currently 40 companies including Apple and Uber are testing their automated vehicles on California public roads while testing in Ottawa has just begun. Experts expect to see some driverless cars on the road in three years and mass production in five years.
As usual the revolution is being driven by machines instead of people. U.S. scientists who altered road signs ever-so-slightly found the AVs missed the instructions 73 per cent of the time and reacted in error. Volvo’s animal detection system can identify deer, elk and caribou but kangaroos throw it into a tizzy. And nobody can figure out how to program driverless vehicles to get the hell out of the way of police, fire and ambulance services.
The only upside is that the driverless technology is so advanced, old guys will not be able to drive more than 10 miles with their blinkers on.
No matter, with all their faults and uncertainties the AVs are on their way. So where does that leave you? Confused. I know. I’ve got your back. Or is that your front … in reverse? Okay, here’s how you know you’ve entered the world of the driverless car.
● You’re a little taken back by Uber’s AV ad that highlights their new mission statement: “Safety Third!”
● You’re just not sure about the little old lady in the driverless car holding a sign that reads: “Honk Twice If You Think I’m Being Held Hostage.”
● You’re uncertain about the Kijiji ad: “Get a pre-owned driverless car for your husband! What a trade!”
You don’t know what to make of the sign on the driverless car in front of you: “Baby Onboard And Behind The Wheel.”
On your first day with your new AV, the navigational system instructs your car to “Please reduce speed and enter the roundabout … No! Not that way you moron! You just hit a kangaroo!
First time out you notice that not only has road rage increased with driverless cars, passengers now have the freedom to moon you!
Your driverless car changes lanes all by itself and you think wait, my AMC Gremlin used to do that too!
Without warning, your Google mapping system gets into a fight with your Microsoft hardware and you find yourself flat on your back on the curb with tire tracks on both arms.
You’re just pulling out of the driveway in your new self-driving Tesla when breaking news on the radio claims that another of their Space X rockets has just crashed and burned in the desert.
Your driverless car pulls up behind another driverless car and they both start twerking!
● As your driverless car approaches an amber light, and despite you yelling: “Tromp it! Tromp it!” — it actually slows down.
● The all-new Driverless Popemobile is considered a miracle by the Catholic Church but it keeps brushing back Protestant pedestrians.
● As your driverless car pulls out to pass a car driven by a human, a recorded voice from under your hood screams: “Get a horse!”
● Despite your protests, your driverless car stops and picks up a hitchhiker who keeps going on and on about how “You off like three or four people and suddenly everybody’s calling you a serial killer!”
And finally, old habits being the hardest things to change, your wife will continue to sit in the backseat of your driverless car but now she’ll have to criticize the onboard computer.
For comments, ideas and copies of The Legend of Zippy Chippy, go to www.williamthomas.ca