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The self-driving revolution is here - but is it a little boring?

03 Feb 2016

There is no doubt. Humans are terrible drivers.

We drink, we doze, we phone and partake in a number of other naughty activities - all while barreling around at high speeds in vessels covered in metal, glass, distractions and death.

According to the NZ Ministry of Transport, in 2014 alone there were 295 deaths and more than 11,200 injuries from car crashes.

It is statistics like these that have brought on the relentless onslaught of self-driving cars - to ultimately kill the impact of human error.

Almost all of the major car manufacturers have reported self-driving cars as part of their future, with big brands like Tesla and Google getting head-starts with their 'computer cars' already on the roads in the States.

Can you imagine a world where nobody drove at all and we were all ferried around in magical little boxes that drove us where ever we wanted?

Traffic would become irrelevant because you could watch a movie, read a book or if you felt the desire, some work during your commute. Parking would become irrelevant because like a dog you could just tell your car to go home after it had dropped you off. The risk of driving would become irrelevant because according to Google their cars can sense hazards up to two football fields away.

Despite all these benefits, becoming a permanent backseat driver is all a little boring isn't it? Not to mention the fact that you can never truly trust a computer system - every human being reading this has no doubt at some stage had a computer system fail them.

That's certainly the way Porsche feels, as in a recent release, Oliver Blume the CEO affirmed that self-driving cars are definitely not in their future.

"One wants to drive a Porsche by oneself," Blume said in an interview. "An iPhone belongs in your pocket, not on the road."

When it comes down to it, the self-driving revolution is exciting, but I don't think it can stand up to driving yourself.

Can you remember the thrill of finally reaching the age where you're able to sit your drivers licence? And how much popular culture is based around hitting the open road with the windows down, the radio up and the sound of quality banter between friends?

People like to drive (especially when it's a Porsche). People crave control. People love banal tasks done for them, but the transfer to a computer of a task that can threaten lives with one wrong turn will take a long time - even if it is safer than doing it yourself, because a crash will never happen to me, right?

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