One of the benefits of living in the suburbs between the Motor City and Vehicle City is that a lot of news centers around automobiles. After the International Auto Show last month, there’s a lot of news surrounding autonomous vehicles of late. The interesting bit that was discussed this morning on WJR by Paul W. Smith centered on fully autonomous vehicles, not partially autonomous. Paul envisions a society in which we’re no longer “allowed” to drive our non-autonomous vehicles except at specially designated tracks.
That seems rather far-fetched, but then he added this notion: Our fathers and grandfathers used to be able to ride their horses to and from work, but that’s all but impossible in today’s industrialized world. He imagined that world evolving to a point where vehicles drove themselves, assuming safety is achieved, in the next 10 to 20 years.
How difficult a stretch is it? We’ll see what happens in the next ten years but as a cyclist, if they get the science right, a world where we wear laser reflective clothing so that automated vehicle sensors pick us up (say on the shoes, sides, front and back, on the short cuffs and on the jersey backs and shoulders…). Imagine being able to ride on roads were vehicles couldn’t hit us! That’s where we’re headed and while there once was a time I wouldn’t have wanted to relinquish my driving duties, I’d trade up in a heartbeat to be able to cycle in peace.
This would, no doubt, lead to some simple rules that would need to be obeyed in order to stay safe and keep traffic efficient, but think of all of the road rage that would be saved! While I imagine this would only be displaced elsewhere, I would assume that not having to go through the motions of getting around a cyclist, letting the car do the work, would make the experience a little less unsettling.
The technology would cause some problems, I’m sure, though I’m not as opposed as I once was. I look forward to a day when we aren’t plucked off the side of the road.