With features such as adaptive cruise control and automatic collision braking becoming more and more common across the newest models, we’re certainly living at the dawn of the autonomous drive. Companies as diverse as Google and Tesla are pushing ever forward to bring us the fully-realised final product: a car that can take care of every part of each drive while you sit back and remember the tough old days of shifting and steering.
That kind of technological breakthrough might be a wonder, but how is it really going to change the way we drive? Will performing three-point turns manually seem as archaic a practice as chopping firewood in just a few years’ time?
Possibly, but it’s unlikely. Those who point to the doom of driving without the assistance of a computer tend to forget the very basic fact that people do tend to enjoy driving. For driving purists, nothing feels better than carving through tight corners, and even the everyday driver enjoys getting behind the wheel when the ride ahead is engaging and the road is empty.
As long as people like driving, we won’t have to worry about the computers taking over completely. Think of it like fishing. You might find it relaxing to head out with bait and tackle on the weekend, but it would become a chore if you depended on something biting for your everyday sustenance.
And that’s what autonomous driving is really going to change. It isn’t going to mean the end of driving; it is going to mean an end to thankless, dreary driving. When you slip inside for your morning commute, you anticipate stop-start traffic, not hugging corners; the back of the car in front, not stunning Alpine vistas.
The autonomous drive will turn that dead-time into your time. Instead of being forbidden to even use your phone, you’ll be able to do anything from paperwork to learning Latin. Add the fact that journeys will be less stressful, and appreciably safer, and you’ll understand just why the self-driving car is something to look forward to, not fear.
In any case, the possibility of vehicle problems is likely to mean that everyone will need to learn to drive, at least for some time into the future. All in all, you should be thinking of saying goodbye to the drives you hate without having to wave farewell to everything you enjoy about getting behind the wheel.