Self-driving cars are in our future, whether we're ready for it or not. In fact, Google's self-driving car is now its own company called Waymo. And now that they've changed the way we find virtually everything, they'll now change how we get there.
So now we're imagining what our driving habits will be like when the car does the actual driving. According to a new Harris Poll commissioned by Erie Insurance, the self-driving car will free us up to do some other things:
- 19% of us will go to sleep
- 21% will watch movies/videos
- 7% think the road will soon be a place for... um, romantic activities (seriously?)
- 10% would meditate
- 27% would read
- 45% would talk on the phone
- 34% would text and drive
- 5% would drink alcohol ("the car was driving, ocifer")
On that last point, one-third of us think a huge benefit of self-driving cars will be its role as a designated driver -- helping people get home safely after a night out, and seriously reducing the problem of drunk driving.
I can imagine the day when DUI's no longer happen at all, because the car did the driving. I can imagine a car that drops us off at our destination, and then goes to a parking lot a little further out. We could largely eliminate the need for downtown parking and let our cities be cities again, without giving so much prime real estate over to our cars. And I'll bet a few parents imagine the day when the kids get driven to school or dance or one of their other activities by the car -- and not by mom.
Our current driving pet peeves will be eliminated, because the self-driving car will use its turn signal (hooray!). But it will probably also go the speed limit, making impatient people more annoyed.
The really BIG question about self-driving cars is this: Will people be allowed to take the wheel themselves? Will it even be an option? It seems that a world with self-driving cars runs most efficiently when everyone has to let the computer do the driving. It's that intersection (no pun intended) of a human-driven car with a computer-driven car that's likely to cause the most accidents. I'm thinking driving theme parks, or designated roads -- where people will be authorized to engage in that soon to be quaint 20th century activity: grabbing the wheel, hitting the gas, and going!