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Where’s My Driver
August 20, 2016 by Peter Castillo – Leave a comment at the end.

Imagine a business man has just walked out of an important and successful meeting. As he basks in the glory in front of the office building, his chest swells. The sun beams down on him, then the Ray-Bans appear on his face. He gets a text. “Your Uber driver will approach you in one minute.”

The business man can hardly maintain his excitement from the meeting. The elation gets amped more when he gets a call from one of his investors. He takes the call.

The phone call becomes so engrossing, the business man only notices the dark metal and matching tires of his ride when it stops at the curb. The rear license plate matches the text, so he hops into the rear seat. The investor is in mid-sentence, so the man doesn’t look over at the driver. He merely blurts his words. “Driver, you have my address, correct?”

“Yes, sir,” an artificial computer voice says. It doesn’t quite register with the man, because the investor started talking about raising the investment.

The ride rolls smoothly along the city streets until the business man finally finishes his call. All of a sudden, the car comes to an abrupt stop. The man lunges forward. His forehead bounces off the front seat. The hit itself wasn’t hard, but his pride took a good shot. “Driver, what the hell is your problem!”

“Pardon me, sir. A careless driver has cut me off. For your safety, please use the provided seatbelt.” It’s the same artificial computer voice.

A reeling sound from the middle of the seat grabs the business man’s attention. A seatbelt buckle attached to a strap rolls out from the bend of the seat. The man marvels at the technology as the car rolls again. He looks over the front seat. No one is at the controls. The gas pedal is pressed down, the speedometer needle fluctuates, and the steering wheel makes slight adjustments, but there is no driver. “What the hell is this!” the man says.

“Is there a problem with the seatbelt, sir? Would you like me to adjust it?” The computer voice says from somewhere in the car.

“The hell with the seatbelt, who the hell is driving this car! Is this some kind of joke?”

“Oh, I understand, sir. You must not have gotten the text about a driverless car would pick you up. I’ve just sent an email to dispatch regarding their error.”

“Who am I speaking to?” the man says. He looks out his window and sees a little boy scream as he points to the man’s ride.  

“I’m the Orion one thousand. Fully automated computer system designed to operate this vehicle. I’ve been tested and approved for full duty, plus there is always a human eye on me via GPS back at dispatch.”

The business man has heard of driverless car technology, but it’s a surreal feeling when he sees it firsthand. He probably would ask how he could become an investor, but for average pizza eating Walking Dead working stiffs, that kind of experience could be frightening.

As for this author, I am excited for future technology, but not ready to jump into a driverless car. At least, not until it’s been perfected and become as old hat as sending a simple email.

The trucking industry is developing driverless technology as well. As a former truck driver, I’m not too keen on a driverless eighty-thousand-pound vehicle rolling next to me on a dark rainy expressway. The technology will happen, but it will only get my full support when it’s old hat.   




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