Sep 8, 2013

Step One, Limit Speed

The EU is taking a first step toward introducing auto-piloted vehicles, apparently without much comprehension from the "driver" crowd. The folks in Brussels are looking at fitting cameras to older vehicles and requiring that technology to new vehicles to read speed limit signs and limit vehicles to those max speeds. Regulating traffic speed is a necessary function for auto-piloted vehicles, so it makes sense to include this move in an early step toward implementing that technology.

The folks who think that driving up someone's tailpipe increases their own speed or the average commuting rate of travel will be outraged, as if anyone cares about the opinion of a tailgating NASCAR wannabe or the mindless whining of the clown-car-driving, lane-changing, cellphone-yapping douchebags who imagine themselves in some kind of race to the bottom of the gene pool every rush hour.

If you open your eyes to the people who are "driving" 99% of the vehicles on the road, you'll see that damn few humans actually like driving cars as a primary activity. If they did, they'd be paying some attention to the activity. I predict that the moment auto-piloted cars are available, 90% of the people on the road will make that jump in less than 5 years. That 90% will immediately force the other 10% off of public roads faster than cable televisions went from claiming "No commercials!" to conning viewers to pay for cable service and tolerate commercials at the same time.

There are too many practical advantages to auto-piloted cars to avoid. For one, the reason to own one of these vehicles vs. "sharing" ownership are overwhelming. Services like Zipcar are the perfect outlet for auto-piloted vehicles. A little workplace office hour staggering and one car does the job for ten families. When gas finally hits $10/gallon (and it has every where but where gas is subsidized with taxpayer welfare for drivers, like the US) , the price of owning a car is going to be a small portion of the cost of driving.

So, whine about the "nanny state" until your brain shrivels up to the Fox News standard issue micro-pinhead-size, but this technology is coming and it's coming faster than you think. Personally, I'm all for it. I'd rather read on my way to anywhere than drive a damn car. The bad news is that I won't be able to ride my motorcycle on the super-boring roads designed for auto-piloted vehicles because there is no way motorcycles will contribute anything useful enough to traffic to make it worth asking traffic system designers to include us.

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