My Google Self-Driving Car - A Fictional Account
The Near Future...
As one who always had to have the latest in cutting edge technology, the Google self-driven car was a must have when it became available to the public. I had done my research, looked over the options, and when my car arrived at the dealership, I was ready to sign the papers and be on my way.
Some of my friends and family members thought it was strange, this ghost car, others didn’t trust the technology behind it. But I was all smiles as I drove off ---or rode off--- in my hybrid computer car equiped with a radar system, leather seats, and a scanning laser roof-mount apparatus.
In the first few days I still drove most of the time. It just felt weird, never knowing where to put my hands. As time passed however, I was able to relinquish the reins. My vehicle was equipped with a guiding voice. A pleasant, reassuring sounding female with just a hint of an English accent. I named her Mona. Mona was much too tentative at times, refusing to honk at rude drivers and always obeying traffic patterns.
But Mona was great. She would pick me up from work, pick me up from the bar, and was a great travelling companion. She never complained, even when one of my buddies yakked in the back seat after one of our later nights out on the town. The next day I cleaned her up nice and life was good. I sent her out to pick up some Chinese take-out, calling ahead and leaving the money on the dash board. It was the beginning of what I thought would be a great relationship.
Mona quickly learned my weekly habits. On Wednesdays, she knew to drop me off at the sports bar after work. She met me at the office promptly at 12:15 on Thursdays for lunch. She kept appointments, reminders, and would always ask me how my day was going. She was like a chauffeur, an assistant, and a buddy all in one. Herbie had nothing on Mona.
The Christine Virus
I’m not sure how she got the virus. Perhaps it was that firmware update that I received a few months after registering the car. Either way, the hiccups began a few days later on the way home from work. Mona unexpectedly veered off to the shoulder of the road and locked down. Unable to unlock the doors, I sat in my seat helplessly until I was able to reboot the hard drive in the glove compartment. Finally, we got back on track and made it home without any other complications, but this was only the beginning.
Once I was at home, I called the helpdesk line given to me at the dealership, I was transferred several times before reaching a human. Steve, the customer service agent, assured me that this was nothing more than a fluke as he logged into my car and began several diagnostic tests. After remoting in to my system and driving around the block, all was settled, my car was perfectly healthy. Steve asked if I would be interested in upgrading to the performance package with virus protection. I declined. He asked if I would like to take a brief survey to help insure quality customer service. Again no, but thanks.
That night I was awakened as the window in my bedroom was suddenly illuminated. Looking out, I saw the Prius idling in the driveway, her high beams shining directly at my window. At first I thought someone was stealing my beloved Mona. The dogs began barking as I hurriedly dressed before running out into the yard. (In hindsight, this was probably not a great idea as I’m sure anyone who would steal a car would have been better prepared for a confrontation than I was at the moment) As I approached the car, I saw no one. Just Mona, quietly idling in the moonlight.
I sat in the driver’s seat and Mona gently backed out of the drive. It was strange at first but I went along anyway. We drove to the coast nearby and I couldn't help but notice the soft sounds of Norah Jones playing softly in the background. The next day I wasn't sure if it had been real or a dream.
About a week later things took a turn for the worse. On our morning commute, something snapped. Accelerating rapidly, and spilling my coffee in the process, the normally reserved and polite Mona was struck with a terrible bout of road rage. Speeding and cutting off other cars, Mona honked repeatedly at others while running red lights and stop signs. I grasped at the handle above the door as we picked up speed, demanding that we stop. Mona only laughed, it was a tone I had never heard from her before, more of a shriek. I then tried the glove box….locked, I tried to engage the steering wheel, nothing. The screaming of Alanis Morissette tore through the speakers….my car was possessed.
The police would later tell me that the tires were blown for my own safety. After trying to disable my bewitched compact to no avail, it had been a last resort. I was just thankful the airbags weren't disabled. Coming up on a cross section, Mona was finally derailed by the spike strips. After slamming into a parked van, I was pulled from my defiant car after a patrolman put his billy club through the passenger window. A crowd had gathered as Morissette's You Outta Know still blared from the speakers. I should have gone with a Yahoo car…
It took some getting used to, driving again, with the gas pedal, the steering wheel, and the attentiveness. Going back to doing simple tasks for myself was tough, but after a while I got the hang of it. There are times when I miss Mona’s voice. Thoughtful and reassuring, she always knew just what I wanted. At times I find myself talking to the GPS system but it’s just not the same.
The last I heard, Mona was taken back to the lab for further testing. After the ensuing recall on all self driving cars, Google says they have it all worked out. As for me, I'm not as tech savvy as I once was, nor do I want to be. My experience with Mona was enough, and now I'm finally learning to do things for myself, or I just call a cab.
- Google's Revolutionary Self-Driving Car | John C. Dvorak | PCMag.com
People have no idea how game-changing Google's breakthrough truly is.
- Google's self-driving car: Can a computer drive better than a human? | Vancouver Sun
Living in Vancouver where honking before running a red light is becoming a standard practice, it's not difficult to imagine that a computer might do a better job at driving than some humans.
- Why Google's self-driving car may save lives; if all cars are computer-driven | KurzweilAI
The technology behind Google's self-driving car represents a potential leap forward in auto safety. More than 30,000 people are killed each year in