We’re right around the corner from having predominantly self-driving (autonomous) cars on the road. It should prove to be an interesting transition, especially for those of us who have spent most of our time in the driver’s seat.
One thing you can’t really do when driving a car is take in the scenery. Our automatic, well-practiced training and muscle memory keeps our eyes facing and focused forward, while continually scanning the periphery, the side and rear-view mirrors, instantly reacting to dangers while tracking the actions of our fellow drivers. When cars take over driving, those skills will fade, but our appreciation for the surroundings should likely evolve.
Such is life with technology. Every generation has their “when I was young” stories. In my forties now, I can remember the days before the internet, and smartphones, a time when spending most of the time outdoors was still normal. But getting my first car was another level of freedom I’d only had a taste of when my mother and I would go for a drive now and then. It makes for happy wandering.
This soon-to-be next level of freedom will have us being more mobile, and hands-free. It’d be terribly sad if people are still tempted and addicted to having their heads down staring at screens when outside the windows is where all the wonder is at. Music, well of course that’s important. Or a good audiobook that everyone in the car can enjoy together. I wonder how things might evolve. Will we only ever reach for the dumbing down of television and escapism of film entertainment, video games and mere distractions?
No doubt business types will have screens and feeds and telecommuting action in full effect. Why not video conference while you’re enjoying the drive to work, or anywhere, really?
For me, I think it’ll be similar to the window seat on flights. I always prefer to be sitting beside the portal to the vast horizons. Why wouldn’t you want to enjoy that sky-high perspective? But at ground level, the highways will never be the same. One could imagine a surge in billboard advertising. That’d be horrific. They’re always such an ugly blight on the roadside — unless your motivations are of an elevated (LOVE) mindset. All the more reason to live well away from cities.
The very nature of driving will fundamentally shift, mostly around cities at first, but as energy tech gets better, the endless, long distance road trips will be a more common practice. If we do it right, you may never need to pull over to charge or fuel up, ever again.
New and currently unknown products will emerge. Hardware functionality within the vehicle will have to adapt and evolve. Traffic lights certainly won’t be needed anymore. As we transition away from oil, even road surfaces will have to evolve.
Soon enough, change will come, and with it, another new normal.