Commentary

INK IN THE BLOOD

‘But, ossifer, it couldn’t have been our fault...’
Willis Webb

Now, we’ve heard it all. Google, the Internet search engine giant, is lobbying for driverless cars. According to reports from the New York Times, Google is a pioneer in the field of driverless autos and is quietly lobbying in Nevada for legislation that would legalize such vehicles on public roads.

Google is working to develop driverless cars that could, as the stories said, “ be safely driven without human intervention.”

Gasp!, the proposed Nevada legislation, in conjunction with the driverless okay, also gives a thumbs up (so to speak) to cellphone texting from the driver’s seat. OMG.

Of course, the driverless cars of which Google speaks are operated by a robotic-computerized system, comparable, one would suppose, to the systems such as the remote-controlled model cars and airplanes that have been around for several decades. Naturally with the international situation as it is, we shouldn’t use the term “drone.”

It would be interesting to get the official position of the Department of Public Safety about driverless cars. I mean, how do you write a ticket for an illegal turn to a driverless car?

Can you picture a trooper driving alongside a driverless car that hasn’t made a move to pull over and looking in the driver’s side window to signal pull over and stop and seeing no driver?

Or, if the operators of the driverless car have an off-the-wall sense of humor, ducking down as a patrol car parallels so that the troopers) see no one in the car. Wild!

Google has not revealed what its commercial intentions may be with regard to robotic cars nor does anyone seem to have a clue as to why the testing and legislative maneuvering are taking place in Nevada (Home of Las Vegas and Reno, gambling capitols of the U.S.). Hmmm. Teenagers may have more than a passing interest in this driverless car experiment. After all, what teen hasn’t wished to be invisible when their parents’ car, granted to the teen for an evening, is seen doing maneuvers that could result in grounding for a year.

Google of f icials said their “autonomous technology” could be safer than human drivers. They also claim it will provide more fuel- efficient cars and, that grand claim of all as-yetunproven undertakings: promote economic development.

A driverless car may have great appeal somewhere but I fail to see it, particularly in the teen market.

I mean, can you see a teenager who hasn’t had his/her car very long giving up driving it to anyone, much less a robot.

However, I can envi- sion an amusing scenario or two with a driverless car. One could result in a similar response to one I heard at a wreck scene in a little college town.

Car #1 was driven by a male college student. He and his date are in the front seat. Another couple is in the back seat. They have been to a fraternity party and have had a few libations.

Car #2 was driven by an offduty police officer.

There is a fender bender involving #1 and #2. Male college driver gets out to converse with the off-duty officer as they wait for a traffic patrol police car to come investigate the minor collision.

Of f- dut y of f icer of course smells the alcohol and starts to berate the male student driver, making pointed references to his ability to think and react and to his character being something less than sterling.

After a couple of minutes of this, the coed in the back seat sticks her head out of the car window and announces to offduty cop: “But, Ossifer, it couldn’t have been our fault. We were all at a party in the back seat.”

Talk about your open and shut case.

I’m sure Google’s rationale for a driverless car is better than the coed’s.


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2011-06-02 digital edition



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