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Driverless car is not for this guy

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webmaster | 09/25/12

Dan Neil, The Wall Street Journal’s automotive writer has ridden in the driverless car, and writes that the driverless car will soon be common, and a good thing that will be, too, he says.

What? A driverless car? Where’s the fun in that? If you are merely going to sit there while the car does the driving, why not take a cab instead? The next question is, though, would the cab be driverless as well?

That brings thoughts of driverless buses, pilotless planes, engineerless trains and captainless boats. I’m not sure all that would be safe, but Dan Neil says it is.

The driverless car in which Dan Neil rode, at the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca near Monterey, was a BMWTrackTrainer, outfitted with a robot which uses GPS, track maps and telemetry, all recorded during a professional driver’s trip along the road the nondriver eventually will take. The robot remembers everything about the road and duplicates the moves of the professional driver exactly.

You might think that would be a very good thing, leaving the nondriver with little to do other than to call somebody on a cell phone, or text somebody, or watch a little television.

But what would happen if a rabbit ran across the road, as happened to me the other evening when I was on my way home from work? The rabbit was heading home, too, and didn’t look both ways when he was crossing the street. I jammed on the brakes, just as he turned to see what all that noise was coming at him. He froze in the road, probably saying his prayers. I stopped about 10 feet in front of him. He gave me a look and continued across the road, as if nothing had happened. I drove off again and went home, a little bit shaken up.

I don’t like running over rabbits, squirrels, gophers, chickens or anything else that crosses the road.

It makes me think the driverless car might not have the same sensibilities I have. Dan Neil claims it will be safer, but tell that to Mr. Bunny.


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