Recent research shows that voice-activated texting is still very distracting for drivers. Alternatively, a recent Onion headline said that ‘Texting While Driving Okay If You Look Up Every Couple Seconds’. What do these two contradictory collections of words tell us? That people want to do other things than drive when they are driving. And they don’t want to pay attention to the road, particularly.
What else don’t drivers like? Getting caught speeding. Getting into accidents. Getting lost. Looking for a parking space. Staying sober when you need to drive. If only there were a remedy for all these things! And of course there is! And if you are a regular reader of this blog, you know the answer! ROBOT CARS! They solve everything. Even, for many, the need to OWN a car at all. And they’re OUT THERE already, driving around not having accidents! This isn’t the future. This is now. The only thing robot cars DON’T have, apparently, is demand.
And here we have a puzzle. Americans, whom we have come to understand want nothing more than the latest in technology, are strangely clamorless for robot cars. The newspapers and websites are strangely unfilled with stories about them and gleeful photo-shoots and excited crowd interviews about the exotic new vehicles. The ‘anything is possible’ forward-leaning 21st-century American technophiles can’t seem to get their minds around this one. (And note I didn’t use the “wrap their heads around” formulation which is a visual metaphor that is impossible to visualize. And while I’m tangenting into language issues here, it’s “heart-rending” or “gut-wrenching”, not the new combo “heart-wrenching” which is just verbal laziness at work). Anyway, it’s hard to understand why we’re “asleep at the wheel” when it comes to robot cars. Mind-wrenching even.