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Self-driving cars: 5 reasons why we want them to happen now

Self-driving cars: 5 reasons why we want them to happen now

Driven to automation

Text: Daryl Lee


Whether you like it or not, the self-driving car is coming.

And it's coming sooner than you think. Most probably, it's going to be electric, because y'know, that's the power source of the future. Say goodbye (mostly) to the whole notion of the smoky, vibrating polluting thing known as the car with an internal combustion engine.

And when that bright, happy day does come along, nobody will be rejoicing harder than us. Not that we dislike driving or anything, but the thing here is choice. We'll drive when we want to, and only when we want to. That's why Grab, Go-Jek, Uber, Lyft, Ryde and of course, taxis, exist. But why are we looking forward to a day when humans will be supplanted by an electronic brain?

Well...

Commuting is a chore, and chores are dull

There are some people out there who actually like doing chores. And hey, if you're one of those people, more power to you.

But we're willing to wager that they are in the minority, and the vast majority of the populace despises chores as much as they despise house guests splashing water all over the bathroom floor when they wash their hands. Ooh, that triggers us so hard.

As with polishing your floor tiles, commuting to/from work or to meetings is also a chore. A big chore, but an avoidable one once self-driving cars roll around.

Not that the act of commuting is unpleasant in and of itself, though. The solitude of driving can sometimes be pretty therapeutic, but it's dealing with traffic and the short-tempered nature of most local drivers conspiring to sour the mood.

The chance to stretch out

Oh, sure. Taking a ride-share to and from the office allows you to do the same — you can text your friends, catch up on your social media feeds, continue binge-watching Black Mirror and more, but even the roomiest car these days won't allow you to fully stretch out.

And by stretch out, we mean in a full reclining position.

Since the car of the future is completely self-driving, you don't need front seats or a space to put the dashboard, centre console or other instrumentation. This allows for radical layouts hitherto never seen in cars. For instance, the entire space inside a car can now be devoted to passenger comfort, which could take the form of a miniature living room or lounge space. A fully flat floor with a small coffee table at its centre with a reclining chair next to it. How about a TV screen as well — like a first-class airline seat is well within the realm of possibility.

An on-demand chauffeur

As with stretching out above, you could sorta get that with a ride-share too if you're being extremely oblivious. But as anyone with a chauffeur will tell you, having your own designated driver really is the only way to travel.

A robotic chauffeur has the added benefit of not having to be paid (apart from the running costs associated with vehicle ownership) and because it's not a human, it'll never have to take a sick day. Nor will it ever complain about being overworked.

But even more important than that is how you'll never have to deal with the vagaries of surge pricing, or have to suffer the interminable wait outside the club after a big night out.

Not having to deal with people

This cannot be stressed enough. Not everyone is up for deep political debate early in the morning after dragging themselves out of bed, in the middle of the afternoon on the way to an extremely important meeting, or at 10pm after spending nearly 12 hours in the office.

Heck, not ever, if we're honest. At least not around complete strangers who we've just met. Anyway, with an electronic brain encased in a box that you can't see doing the driving, you'll never have to deal with awkward conversations again, or have to ensure human contact when you don't want to.

While that might seem like an autonomous car's biggest perk, we've saved the best for last, namely...

The freedom of choice

While certain self-driving cars are designed to never be steered with human intervention, there are some that cater for the times when owners will want to drive them.

Should the need strike you, you can drive such cars like any regular car today, say on a weekend cruise to coffee with your friends. But if you don't feel up to turning the wheel on your own, it folds neatly away into the dashboard and the electronics take over. The best of both worlds is an obvious benefit, but to us the biggest plus of such hybrids is you'll only drive when you want to.

Freedom and liberty, which is what the original promise of the car was, wasn't it?

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