Home, Jeeves

California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, has signed legislation that will eventually lead to the legal operation of autonomous autos on the state’s many, many, many roads. By 2015 California will have guidelines to govern cars that drive themselves. I shared this news with Wally, proprietor of Wally’s Intimida – home of the Sherpa sport utility vehicle.

Here at Wally’s Intimida, we are thrilled about the coming age of driverless cars! I believe it will bring back the Hugeness Imperative! The H.I. was an important part of the car buying equation back in the ’90’s, when people sought vehicles that were increasingly larger and heavier as a safety measure. The thinking was – “if my car is bigger than yours, it will be harder for you to hurt me”. A line of reasoning that is undeniably true in terms of physics, and truly undeniable as a sales pitch! Oh how I miss those days!

In the years since, people have started to place more value things like fuel efficiency and reducing greenhouse gasses.

But I believe that turning control of your car over to Robbie the Robot is going to bring back the H.I. with a vengeance, because if Robbie goofs up, the sheer bulk of the vehicle will become your last line of defense! We’re already working on a Sherpa “Impervious” package – marketing the car cabin as a watertight, reinforced, self-contained life support system that cannot be compromised by any sort of impact.

Yes, it will be considerably heavier than the current Sherpa, which is already as hefty as a fleet of motorhomes. But don’t worry about gas mileage, because Robbie will be able to drive it sensibly. He’ll accelerate gently from stoplights and follow other cars at a safe distance. He won’t gun it on yellow lights and he’ll actually come to a full stop before turning right on red! You won’t notice because you won’t be paying attention anyway. The car will simply turn into another place to “be”, and driving will be just another thing that happens nearby while you neglect it. Even if laws are written to make the licensed human responsible for monitoring the trip at all times, you know what’s going to happen. People will do (and get caught doing) everything that humans can indulge in while riding around in the it-drives-itself car.

Everything.

Just let your imagination run wild with that one.

Autonomous Autos? I can’t wait! Pre-order your Sherpa Impervious at Wally’s Intimida today, and let our circuits do the driving tomorrow!

What one rule would you be sure to include in the laws that govern driverless cars?

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54 thoughts on “Home, Jeeves”

      1. I will say this: here in Mankato, famous for terrible driving, we apparently have many driverless cars. Our local TV station has writerless news. And a local doctor told a friend of ours that he should go to the Cities to have surgery because our local Mayo hospital has become so bad. So our hospital is a careless hospital.

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  1. I can’t imagine driverless cars, but maybe they won’t be as bad as some human drivers.

    One rule? How about no U-turns in the middle of busy streets.

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  2. Morning–

    I think rule #1 should be a human MUST ACTUALLY be in the vehicle! No ‘send it to the store for a loaf of break’ trips will be allowed.
    Out in my neighborhood some road construction on a major highway has detoured a LOT of traffic down our county road for the last 6 weeks. Construction is supposed to be done in a week or two– and none too soon if you ask me. It is crazy out there.

    You know, there are tractors, combines and sprayers that are equipped with ‘Auto Track’ capabilities. Sheez, If all I had to do was ‘ride around’ in the tractor I’d be taking a nap.
    (I tried to find an interesting tractor video to insert here but the ones that explain Auto Track are 9 minutes long and kinda dull.)

    Work has been busy lately; I barely have time to skim the postings.

    TTFN–

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    1. Agreed – Teenager and I talked about this in the car this morning on the way to school/work. She suggested that it would save a lot of time for parents; you could put your kid in the car and send it to the gym and you could stay home and mop the kitchen floor. Unfortunately we quickly thought up some scenarios that would result from this practice – it got scary really fast!

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  3. I have a question. What are the passengers in driverless cars supposed to do while being driven? Nap? Read? Play cards? Being somewhat of a control freak, i have a hard time allowing anyone to drive me around, much less handing over the wheel to someone who isn’t there.

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  4. Good morning. It is hard for me to believe that there will be many people who will voluntarily give up driving their own cars. However, that are some bad drivers that really shouldn’t be driving. In fact, it might be better if none of us are allowed to drive if driverless cars become available to all. I think there would a lot of resistance to outlawing driving, but it might be a good thing.

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  5. self driven vehicles is a concept i have daydreamed about since being a small boy. i knew at abouit age 6 how i would do it and at first listened to others on what was wrong with my ideas. i am glad someone else with a thicker skin or maybe better knowedge of available technoogy thatn i had in 1960 has picked up the baton and carried on.
    i would guess it will be a one step forward two steps back deal to get it started. all the benifits of being able to read the paper on the way to work while the driving is done by a higher power is out the window if the premise is not 100% but we have to start somewhere dont we.
    i think the rule i would love to emply would be there are areas where self driven stuff ahppens and no one else is allowed and then there are areas where the average joe can cut in and out of traffic in the midst of vhicles capable of driving themselves but not doing so at the moment.
    this will tweak my brain all day but i have one of those days so i will be checking back in down the road. i see so many things that come up i have to focus and deal with the first issue then the second as they come cascading out of my what if brain. fun question.

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    1. I think being in a driverless car was one of my recurring dreams (nightmare) for a long time. I was in a car and had no control over where it went. Never saw a driver. It went very, very, very fast and invariably went over a very, very high cliff. Terrifying.

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      1. Heh, I’ve had dreams where I’m in a moving car, but sitting in the back seat and unable to reach either the wheel or the pedals over the empty driver’s seat. Can’t imagine what that could be about…Never went over a cliff that I recall, though my earliest of these involved going faster and faster down the Robert Street hill on the West Side. What’s interesting is that I was almost 10 years too young to drive at the time I had that dream.

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        1. I’ve had that one, too. One time, the car plunged into an icy lake. I was sure I was going to die. I wondered why I wasn’t cold as the water rushed in. I found that the reason I wasn’t cold was that I was in my nice warm bed.

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  6. I suppose a driverless car could be handy if you have some sort of physical impairment that prevents you from driving. The Braille signage on the ATM machines might actually make sense once blind drivers can get behind the wheel. That said, running red lights and rolling through stop signs without coming to a complete stop is common practice by many of the human drivers I encounter in daily traffic; signaling turns seems hopelessly out of fashion. I can’t imagine that a driverless car could do much worse than many of the human drivers I see when out and about.

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  7. If there are driver-less cars on the road, we better make sure they aren’t equipped with Apple maps. The stories about glitches with those maps on the new iPhone are beginning to pile up. Put it this way: the maps in the new Apple phones are a lot like the replacement refs in the NFL.

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        1. Nothing earthshaking, just common old woman stuff.
          A few years ago my daughter turned on her video camera when they visited my mother in the nursing home. My mother got laughingly uncomfortable, not really upset and said, “I suppose you are going to show this to the whole family.” My daughter told her to say “I love you” which my mother never did willingly. My mother answered, still laughingly, “Of course I love you. I love my whole family. I’m proud of my family. None of them are in jail.”

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  8. In a way, we already have driverless cars – the ones whose drivers are on the phone (or doing their hair, etc.). In some cases (normal, predictable situations) I think your basic robo-car would be better. But I doubt if the creators can think of every possible scenario for which to program the robo-cars. So I want (but will probably not get) laws that make real drivers drive the cars, paying real attention to driving the cars.

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  9. Hey, I already live the driverless life: my daily commute is via Metro bus and light rail. I can read, daydream, stare out any window I choose, knit (in theory), rest my eyes, yet still get where I’m going safely and on time. Okay, so there’s still a human operator in the mix, but I don’t worry as much about bugs in the driver’s software as I would over these cars–if the disc burner on my computer doesn’t even work properly so that Tech Services has to give me a peripheral device, why would I trust a computer to not kill me in a literal crash?

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    1. I think they should put the money, time, and energy of developing a driverless car into developing better mass transit. The light rail in Mpls is great, but it is limited in where it goes. And if I want to take a bus to a suburb that is a 20-30 minute drive away, well, it can take 1.5 to 2 hours (and up to 3 buses) to get there on the bus.

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      1. What we really need is one of those transporters from science fiction such as they used in Star Trek. No need for a driverless car or good public transportation system. Just step into the transporter and you can go there immediately. The high tech people should see if they can come up with a device like that.

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  10. Driverless cars require a network controlling them, a system to keep them all in control. Even if they are autonomous, they need signals from a central point to respond to. I wonder who is at the controls? A private corporation or a government agency? Would control of your car be capable of being hijacked? The doors lock and your car is diverted somewhere you hadn’t intended…
    Or, knowing how corporations work, how long before they start influencing the route your car takes so that it just happens to drive by their business. When cable TV was first proposed, it was called “Pay TV” and the supposed tradeoff for paying was no commercials. We know how that turned out. I can foresee unintended consequences here as well.

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  11. Just opened my mail and learned I am riding in a driverless car for health insurance. BC/BS cancelled my plan out of Blue Earth County. Not the plan. Just the plan in my county. So if I move to St. Peter can I still keep it because it does apply there? I lost my agent and my plan. Now I have to go call a bunch of numbers and or spend hours online to compare plans and see who covers my clinic. Sigh!

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