Would You Nap in a Self-Driving Car?

By James Wallace Harris, Tuesday, July 14, 2015

It won’t be long before self-driving cars will be common. First tested in California, they’re now being let loose in Texas. It’s doubtful you’ll see one real soon, but maybe by 2020 or 2025. Since I easily remember a time before smartphones, that will be fast enough. We’ll go through a phase where regular cars will get more and more auto-pilot features, but sooner or later we’ll have cars without steering wheels.


But I’m wondering how many people will feel safe in such cars? It sounds a bit creepy to me. But what if they turn out to be perfectly safe? Would you feel comfortable enough to take a nap while zooming down the expressway? Would you send your kids off to school without going with them? In another twenty years I’ll be reaching an age where I should give up my keys–self-driving cars might extend my years of autonomy.

Will we reach a time where a human driving a car will scare us?

How will you feel seeing cars tooling down the highway with no people in them? It might be practical to go to work and tell the car to go home so another family member could use it. It might be possible to have taxis, Uber and Lyft vehicles roaming the roads without drivers.

I can remember a time before cellphones, personal computers, the internet, and a bunch of other technological marvels. I’m not that old at 63, but I’m reaching an age where so much change is wearisome.  I remember talking to my grandmother, who was born in 1881,  about her life before cars, planes, radios and televisions. I’m sure she met old folks who remember times before telegraphs and steam engines. Before these speeded up centuries our species often went hundreds or thousands of years without much change. Neanderthals went tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years, without much change.

I wonder why everything has gotten so speeded up lately? Will things ever slow down again?

We need to expect other kinds of changes, more than the constant change of gadgets. Imagine economic and social changes. If cars are smart enough to drive themselves, why should we own them? Why not let them seek their own most efficient utilization? If you combined ride sharing with robotic cars we’ll drastically change the whole economy, and maybe help the environment.

Yet, that will put a lot of people out of work. Are we really sure we want the future we’re rushing into?


4 thoughts on “Would You Nap in a Self-Driving Car?”

  1. I’m not going to be napping. I can’t nap in a car driven by another human. It does sound like they may be ready about the time I won’t be able to drive safely any more, and that is going to be mighty convenient for me. I probably won’t be able to do road trips, but at least I’ll be able to get around town and not become a shut in. As for sending children off to school — haven’t you heard? Children cannot be out of the sight of an adult caretaker now until they are about 13 years old — maybe older.

  2. “Will we reach a time where a human driving a car will scare us?”

    What do mean “will”, I am totally terrified of humans controlling vehicles, there is no future tense in there for me. I can not stress how the idea of robo-drivers and pilots give me the warm, almost safe fuzzies inside. Humans plain suck at driving, or more correctly they suck at paying attention to driving. Trust me, one of my darker hobbies is browsing the results of bad human driving, so again, humans scare the crap out of me when they are in control of vehicles.

    Bring on the robo-drivers! Like fanarking now! Please.

    Still, I am not going to nap in a robo-driven car any more than I would with a human, me I want to see my horrible, messy, gore filled end coming. I don’t believe in anything after death so I want to maximize my experiences before I become a sack of wet, rotting meat.

  3. I’ve wondered for years why we don’t already have self-driving cars. No, not autonomous AI-controlled GoogleCars, but ordinary vehicles fitted with cruise control, radar braking and optical or magnetic steering sensors, cruising on dedicated Interstate lanes fitted with reflective paint or buried guide wires.

    Liability issues? Big Government paranoia? I don’t know. You wouldn’t think such a thing would be technically out of reach, but maybe I’m wrong about that.

  4. I’d love a self driving car! It’d be kind of like auto pilot on the plane – usually (always?) it’s the pilot overriding it that makes the mistake. I’m a crap driver and the older I get the more the whole thing scares me. Plus in my job I come across heaps of old people who can’t drive any more and are therefore stuck at home without the means to get to where they need and want to go, it’s a real issue – and self-drive cars might solve it! Goody!

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