self driving cars

Do we even need self driving cars?

Last week I got to hang out at the Ford Go Further event. It’s a yearly event they host in South Africa where they focus on their plans for the continent. If I’m completely honest, I was only really there to drool over the Ford Mustang and pine for a Ford Ranger (yup, I’m a bakkie kind of girl). Despite my bakkie love, the Ford Edge has caught my attention. How sexy is this bugger?

self driving cars

I digress. 

During the Go Further event there was a mobility panel that media could attend. Heading up the panel was Erica Klampfl, an expert at Ford in the field of mobility. Panels usually involve a few people chatting on stage, asking questions and giving food for thought. Media can then weigh in with their questions. I’m from that “new” generation. The blogger. I get excited about random things and Snapchat the proceedings. So when a print journalist stood up and asked “what’s the fuss with autonomous vehicles, why do we even need self driving cars?” I was a bit taken a back. Who doesn’t enjoy lounging in an Uber and scrolling through twitter while the driver deals with traffic? What could be better than that? Not having to make small talk with another human being during the journey – that’s what.

self driving cars

But that’s the thing isn’t it? If self driving cars are just going to help feed our lazy streaks are they really worth the huge financial investment going in to them? They are. We need self-driving cars. Here’s why they’re rad:

1. Wheels give you freedom. We wrote a story recently about how behind SA tech for the disabled is. Nicky Abdinor chatted to us for Intel iQ and mentioned how her car was like her wings. My friend’s great gran, while unable to drive herself, would be able to get out of the house a bit more during the day.

2. NO MORE TRAFFIC. Really. Self-driving cars or autonomous vehicles are able to communicate with one another. They’d be fitted with sensors and be able to move more seamlessly through busy roads. There would be no red light jumping, no Joburg taxi scooting up the emergency lane and no chance of you getting yourself in to a bumper bashing because you thought it was a good idea to do your make up and check Facebook in morning traffic… while driving. We wouldn’t NEED a fast lane. According to reports, the German Autoban is already working on a lane dedicated to autonomous vehicles. I can hear you grunting about the dangers if this goes wrong but let’s play along with my glass half fill attitude for a bit shall we?

3. No drunk drivers – self explanatory.

4. More time. I spend far too much time in my car driving from place to place. I cut out close on 2 to 3 hours a day because I’m behind the wheel. That’s dead time. Do we even need self driving cars? Yes. Because I can’t afford a full time driver (yet) and I want to get more work done. You probably want the same thing.

self driving cars

Not all bloggers are stupid and just touting BS for free stuff. I’m well aware that the concept of everyone sitting in an autonomous vehicle is close on impossible. For starters it would put millions of people out of jobs and I can’t see them being happy about that. Financially, vehicles cost a small fortune and only a small percentage of the population can actually afford them. The dangers of these self driving buggers rising up and enslaving us (or at least having a fault and causing a traffic jam of cars who are smart but not quite smart enough to figure out what is going on) are high.

I’m not even going to get in to the legislative complications this would all contribute to.

I’m just glad companies like Ford are researching the technology. I’m happy they’ve pushed some of their autonomous features that have gone to market in to entry level vehicles that you and I can afford.


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