Like it or not, the driverless car is coming. At this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Mercedes-Benz reported that its new E-Class sedan had earned a Nevada Autonomous Driver's License — the first production car to do so. At the same show, upstart electric-car maker Faraday Future announced (as it unveiled its autonomous FFZERO1 race car concept) that its future production models would be pre-wired to receive driverless technologies as they emerged, and Kia pulled the wraps off an entire sub-brand, called Drive Wise, devoted to driverless cars.
So as we contemplate a driverless future, and examine the ways autonomous vehicles will revise our thinking about everything from the insurance industry to law-enforcement practices, it can be enlightening to consider the end-user changes, as well. Children of the driverless generation will let go of more than just the go-turn-stop skills required to operate a motor vehicle, they will lose many of the attitudes, interactions and cultural norms — the good and the less good — that accompany manual control of a car.
We've picked 10.
1. Speeding Tickets
An autonomous car will not be goaded into exceeding the posted speed limit because its occupant is running late, feeling frisky or suffering with a full bladder.
2. Drivers Ed Class
Autonomy will bring an end to driver training classes and the Department of Motor Vehicles. And with the end of traditional driver licensing will come the end of bad licence pictures.
3. Getting Lost
Thanks to the ubiquity of in-dash GPS navigation systems, our ability to read paper maps is already on the decline, but in the driverless era the cars will take over route-planning duties, making road atlases — and wrong turns — distant memories.
4. Parallel Parking
Children of the driverless generation will simply hop out of the car at their pre-programmed destination and let the vehicle find a parking spot—and feed the meter—on its own.
5. Driver Prejudice
In our autonomous future, every car will be driven exactly the same way, so ageist, sexist, racist and regional driver prejudices will cease to exist.
6. Fender Benders
Driverless cars will possess not only an uncanny awareness of their surroundings, they will maintain constant communication with other driverless cars, allowing them to avoid potentially treacherous situations before they happen.
7. Road Rage
Autonomous cars will be incapable of tailgating, brake-checking or cutting off other driverless cars; they will not drive too fast or too slow; and they will never, ever flip the bird.
8. Car Theft
Keys? An autonomous car will operate with a fingerprint reader, a retinal scan, voice-matching software or synthetic telepathy. And constant situational awareness may allow the car to simply start up and drive away before a thief has a chance to act.
Autonomous vehicles will not only demonstrate total environmental awareness, they will possess superhuman reflexes, which may keep Bambi from becoming a speed bump.
10. The Stig
What good is skill behind the wheel when there's no wheel? And what fun is a Power Lap board when every car returns the exact same lap time? Also extinct: drag races, trucker songs and Fast & Furious sequels.
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