Other, Rants

Driving Sucks, but the Solution is Nigh

To me, his whole self driving cars development is going to be a major leap forward in human culture. I have always hated cars. I hate everything about them. I have whole-heartedly wished that human culture had developed in some way that did not involve the personal vehicle becoming so popular. I wish that all of humanity’s resources that have been poured into the personal automobile industry had instead been put into public transportation. So I am exceedingly excited that the self driving car is going to break into modern culture within my lifetime. Below, I explain why I am so eager to leave the archaic past of the personal vehicle behind.

Cars Suck

1. Cars are Freakishly Dangerous

In comparison to other activities ubiquitous to our lives, driving a car is extremely risky. People overlook how dangerous driving is simply because it is so prevalent in our daily lives that people have become desensitized. But think on this, at least twice a day, you get inside a giant gas powered metal box, and move at speeds that surpass the capacity of nature to achieve, alongside a herd of other fast moving gas powered metal boxes, trusting that they will not slam into you and kill you. If you compare the leading causes of deaths annually, you will see lots of causes, primarily health related, but car accidents is also very high up there. You may think, well obviously there are a lot of car accident deaths, people do it all the time, so there is more exposure. So, why are people WILLINGLY exposing themselves to that level of risk EVERY SINGLE DAY. People are so risk adverse that they will avoid GMOs in the scientifically unsupported attempt to be healthier. And yet this risk adverse culture overlooks something as dangerous as driving. People expose themselves EVERY DAY to a huge amount of danger, and it boggles my mind that so many people are ok with that.

2. The Infrastructure is Horribly Inefficient

Parking lots like barren wastelands stretched across the earth, starving the soil beneath them. I hate the infrastructure that goes into accommodating cars. Parking lots are huge wastes of space, whose sole purpose is to store resources that are not being utilized. That sentence makes the resource management video game player within me weep. If you have resources that are not in use, you are being inefficient. And if you have to waste even more resources to make a place to keep those resources when they are not in use, you are being stupidly inefficient. And all that space that is being used to store those wasted resources is also a wasted resource in and of itself. That space could be much more useful.

Roads themselves are not that bad, I recognize them as the arteries of the land, the vessels through which we move human resources from one part of the Earth to another. However, I do hate the impact that roads have on nature. Every day I see road-kill, and it breaks my heart. Minimizing the need for roads, or at least the number of cars on them will save animal lives.

3. Cars are Stupidly Inefficient at their Primary Purpose: Transporting People

In modern times, it is very difficult to get around without a car. You need a car to get to work, to get the grocery store, or the airport, or wherever it is you need to be at a certain time. But if you look at the number of cars on the road in comparison to the number of people, you will notice that the ratio is almost 1 to 1, despite the fact that most cars have at least 5 seats. There are almost 5 times more cars on the road at any given time than there needs to be to transport the same number of people. If someone told you that a significant part of your life could be five times more efficient, wouldn’t you want that?

4. People Suck at Driving

No matter how many people stick to the rules of driving, and are courteous and thoughtful while doing so, there is always some ass-hat who ruins everything. Yeah, I’m talking about those ass-hats who make everything worse for everyone else just so that they can get a couple cars ahead. Even if they don’t mean to be selfish, humans suck at making driving choices that are best for the driving community as a whole. Driving is a very ‘every man for himself’ activity. People seldom think about (or even understand) how their actions can affect traffic in general.

 

Self Driving Cars Solve All these Problems

1. Self Driving Cars are Safer

I know, putting your life in the hands of a machine is scary. But the technology has honestly gotten very very good. Ultimately, self driving cars will be much MUCH safer than human drivers. Machines can react unfathomably faster than a human. Machines can calculate and anticipate problems, and find optimal solutions with much more efficiency and accuracy than a human. Machines do not get tired, or distracted, or inebriated like a human can. In the long run, no matter how ‘unsafe’ a self-driving car is, it will be much more safe than having a human at the wheel.

2. Self Driving Cars Potentially Do Not Need as Much Infrastructure

Instead of having your car just sit in a parking lot all day while you are at work, imagine it scampers off and helps other people get where they need to go during the day. Not only is your car not wasting space in a parking lot, but it is being useful! This ultimately means less cars and less parking lots needed to effectively transport the same number of people. It’s like Uber or Lyft, just without the drivers.

In the future, once human drivers have been banned from roads completely, a lot of other infrastructure will also become obsolete. For example, traffic lights will no longer be necessary. Highway and street signage, stop signs, speed limit signs. Not to mention, traffic cops will no longer exist, DUIs will become a thing of the past.

3. Self Driving Cars Can Potentially Transport People More Efficiently

My vision is for a system of self driving cars with a database of people’s schedules. When and where they need to be and go. This system could potentially operate similar to a more personalized, small scale public transportation system. Picking up and dropping off multiple people with similar routes. It’s like getting on the bus when you are a kid. It picks you up and drops you off within walking distance of your house, and your place of work/school.

4. Self Driving Cars Don’t Suck at Driving

The number one thing that self driving cars can do that humans can’t, is communicate and share data with each other. Self driving cars can work together, like a hive, to create the optimal outcome for all drivers on the road. This will result in less traffic, less road rage, and an overall more efficient drive. As outlined in the video above as well, self driving cars can calculate and adjust to information from other cars, making it so that reaction speed does not factor. Self driving cars can operate much more efficiently than humans without such a limitation, and thus be better drivers.

5. THEY DRIVE THEMSELVES

And the obvious one, you don’t have to drive a self-driving car. Driving is a huge time waster. I spend my commute listening to audio books and podcasts, but most of the time I still wish I could do something else with my time. The self-driving car will allow for just that. Catch up on sleep, work on your computer, chat on the phone, do whatever you want during your commute. The sky is the limit.

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