Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Entry for February 26, 2008

For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.Jonathan Swift(1667-1745)

Being a die-hard, card-carrying, redneck-conservative, I have a grand belief that government should stay out of 90% of our lives. Still I am amazed that government has stayed away from some issues that seem to be well within the intended mission of law. For instance, the maximum legal speed limit in the USA is 80 MPH (daytime on interstates in West Texas.) Why do all cars have a top end speed far greater than that? Why has the government stayed away from governing the top speed of automobiles? Technologically, it would be very cheap for all automakers to microchip the top end speed of all except emergency vehicles. Seems it would save both lives and fossil fuel.

Someday cars will communicate with each other, the roads, and the traffic signals.
Vehicle collision-avoidance systems are getting some very serious attention by Ford Motor Company. Further still, GM predicts driverless cars will be available for sale within a decade. They predict these cars will even find their own parking spaces. Being the cynic that I am, I believe that GM will need to hire Japan to do the engineering if this is to happen in 10 years. If GM tries this alone, look for it in about 30 years, and the cars will occasionally drive into rivers and park in bedrooms.

I for one am looking forward to a world without road rage, a plush car driving me to Florida while I snooze and booze. I am curious how cars on autopilot would get out of the way of ambulances and other emergency vehicles when locked in a traffic jam. Will the autopilot know what to do if it encounters a flooded road or a missing bridge? Ted Kennedy and other inquiring minds want to know.

I have great faith that most anything man can imagine he can achieve. What are the benefits of driverless cars for consumers? No longer needing a driver’s license would be huge, especially for drunkards, illegal aliens, and the 80-year-old curmudgeons that don’t want to give up the road. I would assume insurance companies would offer incentives for driverless vehicles since it would remove much if not all of the human driving errors. Indeed, there would be no moving violations for speeding or running red lights for us to deal with. Imagine a world without the long lines of traffic court.

Some people will miss the days of steering with their knees while wolfing down a McMuffin, chugging coffee, and talking on the cell phone, but not me. Pour me three fingers of bourbon please, and wake me when we roll into Key West.


James A. Zachary Jr.

1 comment:

Steve said...

I spent a night last week in Williams, IA. I'm still not sure I know where it is, but as I was driving home on I35, the roads got slick enough that conditions crossed my threshold for directing a hollow metal projectile that only contacts the ground in four small rubberized points. There were six of us in the bar at the motel -- three who had stopped before ending up in the ditch, and three who had been plucked from the ditch by the highway patrol. I think I made a good decision.

This comment has to do with driverless cars because one of the contributing factors to my decision to spend the night in scenic Williams was not my ability to keep my car on the road, but all the other idiots on the road. Case in point: Under each and every overpass there was a slick spot. I don't know if it was because of the shade from the overpass making that short stretch cooler and thus it iced up, or the wind patterns, or what . . . but anyone with three working brain cells would have observed that they basically lost control of their car for about 100 feet and then feel it "pop back in" as soon as the slick area was clear. It's a little scary, but it's predictable and as long as you don't try anything stupid in that 100 feet, not a huge deal. Of course there are idiots who have to drive too fast, and where do they pass you? In that short, 100% predictable, slick spot. 99% of the road probably OK, 1% is known to be slick, and they pick the 1%.