Jane Shops For A Self Driving Car

Jane walks into a car dealership

I’m here scouting a new car for my family. We’ve heard quite a bit about self-driving cars. That’s what you do here, right?

We have both types of cars available. We have our self-driving models over here. Human driven ones are over there. Both are available in electric or gasoline.

The sticker on this car says “fully self-driven”. What does that mean exactly?

This car right here will take you or your stuff anywhere without you having to do a thing. All you need to do is get in, say hello, and tell it your destination. It takes care of everything else.

You or your stuff?

By fully self-driven we mean just that.

Did you forget your laptop charger at home? No problem. Tell your car to go back to your house and have your husband throw it in the backseat.

I don’t get it. I can take the car I own now to go grab my laptop charger.

Oh, of course. I meant when you got to work. You probably went inside, snagged a coffee, said hello to everyone, and got down to business. When you do notice it just use your phone to tell your car to head back to the house for your husband to put the charger in the backseat.

You’re confusing me.

Oh I see! My mistake. You’ll stay at work doing your thing. That’s why I said you or your stuff. You don’t have to be in the car for it to go do things for you. It’s got your laptop charger covered.

Have you ever gotten home from the grocery store and realized that yes, you were out of milk? You thought were out but decided not to pick any up, right?

Of course. My husband can’t live without milk. 2% or no percent is what he says.

Haven’t we all? It’s such a pain. Did you notice the construction going on near SuperGroceries recently?

Can’t miss it. It was on my way here. I drive by it everyday.

Right, right. So you’ve noticed they’re changing the parking lot around quite a bit. They’re even taking some of it out. Not nearly as much parking will be required with that new drive up bay they’re putting in.

You tell your car to go to the grocery store to pick up milk and it goes while you stay home and finish that last chapter, or play with your kids.

Get out. This car can go pick up the milk I forgot?

Correct. While you’re hanging out at home this thing will go to the store. Someone from the store will put the milk in this storage area that’s right over here. Then your car will come home.

It will go pick up just about anything that you want it to. The milk, pizza, you and your husband if you want to go out and have a bottle of wine.

That’s… that’s really amazing. It also seems incredibly unsafe. A computer driven car out there just roaming the roads unsupervised.

That’s the beauty of it. As a computer it’s never distracted by a text message or the flowy arm man at the tax prep place. Coming to a complete stop, looking both ways, turning the headlights on, these are things it does automatically.

It will go the speed limit all the time. Yes, it might take an extra six minutes to get to work. But! You can do whatever you want for the entire trip. Read a book, finish up some email, catch the highlights from last nights game, or take in the landscape that you can’t look at while you drive.

A child that’s born into a family that only has self-driving cars will almost certainly never experience any type of car accident. Not even the teenage rite of passage of backing into a tree or another car

Only the uncertainty of human drivers keeps us from providing a zero percent accident rate. That’s right, zero. If there were no humans driving not a single car would get in an accident.

Well how does that work? My kids are only a handful of years from driving. How do we get to a zero percent rate?

We can’t force people to buy a self-driving car like this. We don’t want to force people to buy a self-driving car like this. That’s a decision for each person to make. Though we do think it’s a compelling automobile. It certainly looks great and helps out with daily life.

Over time the number of human drivers on the road will come down. As they do the safety of this vehicle will go from extremely safe to perfectly uncrashable.

So you’re saying that the number of human drivers on the road will come down because this car is just so good that they’ll have to buy it? That seems optimistic.

Oh yes I do think it is just too good to pass up. But that’s not the only reason. As more self-driving cars get on the road and less human driven cars are out there fewer accidents will happen. Less accidents means fewer bumpers and headlights that need to be replaced. With so few bumpers and headlights being replaced the cost of your insurance on this vehicle will be equally lower.

In fact, the insurance on this car will be about half what you pay right now.

It will be less than what I pay? By half?!

Absolutely. The amount you save on insurance will continue to increase the longer you own this car. Remember as more and more self-driving cars go on the road, fewer bumpers need to be installed. Fewer bumpers means lower insurance premiums.

That will be the case for everyone that owns a self-driving car.

Have you noticed your insurance rate keeps creeping up every year when it renews?

I have. It’s been going up a bit here and there. Over the past year we’ve talked about shopping around for new insurance a few times.

I’ll bet you and your husband are good drivers too.

We are. I can’t remember the last time we got a ticket or were in an accident.

No matter how safe of a driver you are if you decide to continue owning a human-driven car your insurance rate will continue to increase. Little by little at first but faster and faster as time goes on.

Which is not good news if you decide to purchase this human-driven car that we have over here. It’s a beautiful car. This thing is bonkers fast when you put your foot down.

The higher premiums that human-drivers have to pay will deter a lot of people from driving their own car. This will have the effect of convincing people to buy a self-driving car, making the roads even safer. And more efficient.

So you’re saying that this car is too good to pass up? And that if I do pass it up for that one over there my insurance will continue to go up?

I am.

I don’t quite understand how they’re that much safer. I haven’t been in an accident in as long as I can remember.

Well, like I said, they come to a complete stop. They don’t get dis…

Right, you said that already. That’s it?

They talk to each other.

Who talks to each other?

These self-driving cars speak to each other.

Not in words of course. They pass messages back and forth as they drive when they’re near one another.

Imagine you and your husband bought two of these cars. You’re driving down the street and he’s right behind you. All of a sudden a dog runs out in front of your car.

As soon as your car has identified a dog in the street it will automatically do two things at exactly the same time. First, protect you and the dog by braking and maneuvering. Second, pass a message to your husbands car that it will be stopping short.

As soon as your husbands car gets the message it will act on it by avoiding you and coming to a stop. Now your car not only protected you but it’s also protected your husband. All of this happens in milliseconds.

Oh, you’re saying they communicate with one another about what’s going on on the road.

Exactly.

That’s helpful.

It gets better.

Take that same scenario and imagine it being a busy stretch of road. It’s not just you and your husband driving down the road. There are 40 or 50 cars going up and down that same road with you.

Your car, the car that the dog jumped out in front of, has spoken to your husbands car. Your husbands car speaks to the car behind it. That car speaks to the car behind it. And so on until all the cars have been passed the message.

In less than half a second every car around yours knows that there’s a problem and they need to slow down. They all slow down simultaneously. No fender benders, no pile ups. The dog continues on its way and the traffic follows suit.

As long as the dog’s alright.

The dog has no idea what happened. The electric ones are super quiet.

We’ve got two kids and one dog. Safer for kids, safer for dogs. My husband and I can go grab a bottle of wine or this thing can go grab a bottle of wine and bring it back to us.

Your insurance goes down

My insurance goes down!

Do you prefer a light interior or a dark interior?

I’m going to leave that up to my husband. We’ll be back. Will you be here to answer any questions that we come up with?

Absolutely. My name’s Nikola. Come back anytime.

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