Friday, December 19, 2008

Man dares driverless cars

Posted on Fri, Dec 19, 2008 at 5:17 PM

Sit anywhere you likeâ?¦ THERE'S NO DRIVER!!! (Image courtesy SRI)

Greg Harman

Just as highways, once built, never freakin' disappear, suburban dwellers once stung by oil price surges will keep driving like they're undergoing torture â?? as if they can't remove the maddening cranial implant until they have arrived at the tippy top of the master-planned delivery system known as 281.

They dance around on city lanes like opiate molecules bubbling up carotid arteries seeking that crowning “pleasure center” in the sky. Once loosed upon the freeways, all that jittering and tailgating in the quest for a few minutes more primetime-television-enhanced oblivion may be irritating to the rest of us, but, hey, it's not killing anyone.

Or not many anyones, anyway.

A recent Department of Transportation study found that it's not speeders out there creating chaos on the blacktop â?? it's people driving off the road. People sleeping. People having heart attacks. Stupid stuff.

After that, blame the cell phone users (and mobile meditators) who refuse to pass the bleary-headed bluehairs, compounding the left-hand lane's lethargy.

And while thoughts of a world of hopped-up piston pushers bends the throttle in each of our hearts to the far side of reverie, there are a number of factors that suggest even if we could eliminate the bad drivers, daydreamers, phone talkers, and foggy old folks, we wouldn't be able to enjoy a high-octane existence for long.

Americans drive more than any other nationality. Nationally, you'll find several Texas cities (including Alamo City) at the top of that list. And, though I hate to break it like this, it's those long road miles that create our daydreamers, sleeping drivers, and foggy old folks, though at varying rates of return. It's built into the system. (I won't even allow myself the pleasure of preening over declining global oil supplies / clean-water spoiling run-off from our roadways / heat, exhaust, sickness, death curling from the machine's tailpipe, and the like.)

But there's a partial-though-unlikely solution: driverless cars. You've seen them on NOVA. You've read about them in Popular Mechanics. Now you can enjoy the unobstructed view through the windshield right here in San Antonio, all courtesy of the Southwest Research Institute.

I don't know where all this is leading. I just know: You can take away our right to marry children. You can put a limit on the speeds we drive our child brides over the rabbit humps of the Hill Country. You can even stop us from smoking cigarettes and downing bottles of whiskey with our child brides as we shimmy on and off the pavement back on Cemetery Road. But you (you, over there, faceless bureaucrat!) will never stop us from shifting into low gear as we twist our tires around an oil-stained hairpin turn with our headlights out as we spill our liquor on our child bride, swallow a mouthful of vomit, push our tongue into her ear, and race into the on-coming set of high-set halogen bulbs.

Or I don't think you will. Though you probably have some sort of moral obligation to try.

So, anyway, if you want to watch the driverless vehicle promo video, jes click it.

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