The unexciting Google future in our cars

blog-googleImagine that tomorrow morning you’ll get in your car, you tell the computer inside that you want to go to your workplace, and your car will drive you there. Without anymore input from you. The computer will drive, all automatically. Sounds crazy? Far from it, according to Sebastian Thrun, a software engineer from Google, who explains on the company’s official blog that several cars are already driving by themselves using Google’s technology.

They drove so well that they’ve already done more than 140,000 miles all around California. That, always with a driver behind the wheel, doing nothing, but ready to take back control of the car, where the software to fail somehow. But that didn’t happen, or if it did Sebastian Thrun doesn’t blog about it. Explaining that these self-driving cars will free up drivers time and increase road safety (this point has yet to be proven), Sebastian Thrun concludes that this future is very exciting. I can’t agree with that.

Being some kind of an anti-geek, I don’t have a micro-wave oven in my house, because I have more joy cooking than opening a pack of frozen food. I love to drive. I love to be in control and my everyday car has a manual transmission. Automated forms of transport are nothing new. Millions of people take a train or a bus to go to work every morning, and I’ve never met anyone who told me he was happy to get into a suburban train. Whereas I know many people who enjoy driving their cars, exactly the way I do.

You can imagine a car with a computer inside, that already exists actually, you would google inside for a restaurant, and when found, the car will take you there with only click. That may be progress, but I think that sometimes, you need to get lost to find something. Who had never stopped somewhere, unexpectedly, because there was something on the way that needed a closer look? The car would drive itself, with the driver on facebook, he would have miss an opportunity…

Some young people are already like this. You take them to the sea, or to the mountains, they have no interest for either, because their eyes are glued to the smallish screen of their mobile phone. So the future of self-driving cars might be exciting for geeks, but not for car enthusiasts, nor people who quite simply, want to enjoy life.

2 thoughts on “The unexciting Google future in our cars

  1. Damien

    Hello Laurent,
    Thank you for sharing your point of view.
    I have to say that I disagree with you.

    I think having an automated drive will both make roads safer and give travelers more freedom.

    They will have the opportunity to enjoy the countryside or effectively use the travel time rather than concentrating on the bumper of the car they are following and the road.

    I can understand your point. You fear to lose control. But be sure that manual driving will still be available … even in a far future !!!

    Damien (an early adopter)

  2. Laurent J. MASSON Post author

    I guess I’m more and more of a misfit in today’s world. I had a great drive yesterday. What made it great was that I got in the car, started it and drove off without knowing where I was going.

    Of course, as people don’t read anymore, Jack Kerouac is an unknown, and I guess self-driving cars would be a nice fit for people who have a steady and organized life. But I don’t live like this, and quite often I switch off my phone before getting behind the wheel. Because I don’t want to be bothered when I’m driving. Driving is more fun than any phone call, isn’t it? It is to me, as I don’t live in a big city, and very rarely drives in bumper-to-bumper traffic.

    I have a couple cars with an automatic transmission, and I can enjoy them, but I wouldn’t like to be in the back seat of a limo with a driver taking me places, nor I would enjoy a computer doing that job.