I spent a good three hours on a Greyhound yesterday coming back to San Francisco from Santa Cruz. I like looking down into other people’s cars when on a bus. You can see their fax machines or video games or sacks of garbage. GPS systems. I envied them their small personal environments while I was stuck in a smelly backseat. The bathroom was ripe and reeking.
I started thinking how maybe it would be better for me to get my driver’s license. For some reason, though I took DEd (Driver’s Ed. Driving freaks me out a little bit and I have weird dreams about it fairly often. My acronym didn’t help.) Even though I had my temps for a while, I never actaully completed the test and everything. I don’t think I’ve been in the driver’s seat since 2002. I can’t even imagine how I managed to get out the driveway, much less to my grandmother’s house in Milwaukee, an hours drive away on the highway.
Next thing you know I’m inventing a horde of Robo-Chaffeurs. Maybe they would drive the busses, too. And the airplanes, taxis, cruise ships. Sounds like it would put a lot of people out of a job, but just think! No more worries about drunk drivers! Maybe we could have cool pods on rails à la The Incredibles (although in that movie they seemed to be a severe security risk… Speaking of security risk, have you heard of “bump keying?” A friend sent me the link this morning with the comment “This is disturbing…”) Anyways, if I had a friendly and helpful Robo-Chauffeur, my driving problems would be solved. I wouldn’t have to worry about screwing up, and I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone else screwing up. Everyone would always be going the speed limit, too! We wouldn’t need traffic cops.
I figure this topic has probably been taken up in science fiction a zillion times, although I couldn’t think of any specific examples. They had nifty transportation in Minority Report… I wonder if anyone has ever written a story where society has a Robo-chauffeur system and they all go rampant and decide to kidnap the entire human race and take us…to their leader? To another planet? Maybe the rampancy is triggered by particles of alien subconciousness floating through space!!!
Anyhow, I least I wasn’t bored.
PS – This is what came up when I googled “robo-chauffeur.” The team continues their projects here.
In the text adventure Suspended, which required the player to reassert control over a busted computerized planetary control system, one of the things that had to be shut down to minimize casualties was an automated taxi system that was running people over. It wasn’t quite as big a pain in the ass as the aircraft control system, however. Shutting that one down at the wrong time caused them all to crash and cause a spike in casualties. The trick was to shut down the cabs and motorized walkways first so that people couldn’t get to the airports, wait until nobody was left on board the aircraft, and then shut them off.