Driverless cars…the repercussions

Last year four teams (including one each from Stanford and Carnegie Mellon University) raced across 131.6 miles in the Mojave Desert to decide the winner. Just that in this race, the cars were robotic, empty and drove themselves. When I read that the winner got a whooping US $ 2 million – I wondered why would anybody give away so much money? Especially because the ‘giver` happened to be the US Government – the same one that offered India US $ 17.9 million after Tsunami hit our shores and left lakhs homeless!

Here is the logic: US of A wants 30 percent of all Army vehicles to be unmanned by 2015. The idea is to save lives on the battlefield.

If you ask me, I would say the logic is flawed. The better option for US of A would be not to send their soldiers to the battlefront at all! They can save everybody!

Anyways, on the civilian front such research has the potential to change our lives. Here we go again…

Imagine having driverless cars. We can straightaway cut down Rs 4000 – an average driver`s salary/month in Chennai – from our monthly budget. All those old men worried about their daughters running away with the driver will be able to relax.

With no drivers, the petrol/diesel theft will also be history. A step towards an honest, crime-free world? Not exactly…because with no drivers required, the call taxi, auto, bus, truck drivers will be left without a job. In a passionate bid to feed their families, these men will start stealing your robotic cars….or if you are an old man with a pretty daughter of 23, they might even kidnap your daughter.

With the truck driving themselves, the AIDS Society won`t have anybody to blame for the rapid spread of the disease. Doesn`t the AIDS society now blame the Truck/Lorry drivers for playing havoc in highway brothels?

In the busses, the drivers` seat will be empty. So you would be able to sit there and have a good view of the traffic. That is, if you live in Bangalore.

Don`t be too happy…the conductor will be there and you will still have to take that eight-rupee ticket to go from Colaba to Vaashi or any place A to place B.

The autos will be able to accommodate four people. Since, there will be no driver…you won`t be cheated. If you think, you will be able to cheat the robotic autos…don`t even bother. They will come with metallic grips just below the seats and if anybody heads for the exit without paying, these grips will head for the crotch region (as programmed).

The scene gets interesting when we think of the privately owned four-wheelers. You and your wife (or husband) will be sitting in the rear seat and chatting up…and robotic car will announce your arrival. If you are at a party, you can let yourself loose on the booze. After all, your car can drive you back home. Will it be the end of all those “Drinking kills, driving skills” advertisements? Possibly. Sometimes I wonder…doesn`t ‘driving kill, drinking skill` too? For example, the last time I was drinking while driving I spilled my beer trying to keep the car on the road.

With robotic cars in town, would we still have keys? No way. That rules out adventures like the one in which Maruti owners (and some thieves) try using a scale to get into the car. Key-less entry would take a totally new meaning. This will also rule out the simplest gifting solution ever thought of by man – the key-chain. We will never be able to gift a key-chain to the ladies and make them feel important.

Somebody once said…children in backseats cause accidents and accidents in the backseat cause children. I say enough of accidents…let us cause some children!

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