When autonomous cars rise up, what will happen to the classics?
Autonomous vehicles have a lot of upsides. If you want to hear about them, read The Massive Economic Benefits Of Self-Driving Cars by Adam Ozimek on Forbes. I’m going to focus on one particular downside.
The particular downside that I’m going to discuss only really becomes an issue if legislation prevents non-autonomous vehicles from being on the road — something that’s completely possible, though perhaps not for quite some time.
The main reason this could (and probably will) eventually happen is that autonomous vehicles will be capable of talking to each other while out on the road. This massively improves their overall safety as it means autonomous cars may never crash into each other. The software says so. Of course it’s not perfect, so there would likely still be the odd crash, but vehicle-to-vehicle crashes in general would be hugely reduced… much less so if there are still non-autonomous vehicles on the roads.
Picture a time where we aren’t allowed to drive a car. The cars must drive us. What happens to the people who actually like to drive? Do we just get restricted to race tracks and closed roads? Does our autonomous Tesla have to tow our beloved vintage car to the race track just so we can go for a Sunday drive? While many/most people are probably completely unfazed by this, there are quite a few of us who actually enjoy the experience of driving. Why else would so many ‘car people’ spend crazy amounts of cash maintaining cars that are old, unreliable and surplus to our needs?
I have a simple solution for this that allows non-autonomous vehicles to become communicative with autonomous vehicles. Why not fit the same tech to older cars?
Let me explain. Installing systems that let any car drive itself completely is extremely uneconomical… however fitting the devices that communicate with other vehicles on the road really wouldn’t be so bad. This would at the very least allow autonomous vehicles to realise that, “Hey, there’s a dumb car over there with a human driver. Better give them some room.”
The only thing that non-autonomous cars wouldn’t be able to do is actually drive themselves. The driver would need to take care of this, and to be honest… driving would be a lot easier if the other cars on the road were more predictable… and you don’t get much more predictable than a computer.
Really all it would take is a little of the tech that we already have in autonomous cars being installed in classic cars to allow a few of us to keep on enjoying driving ourselves.