Driving into the future

I’m in the market for a new car.  I can’t quite figure out if I should try to sell my 10 year old / 288K mile VW Jetta or my wife’s 8 year old / 135K mile Mercedes E320 Bluetec, but as soon as I figure that out, my wife will be getting a new car.  Something with four wheel drive and heated seats.
It occurred to me while logging 1,000+ miles touring around the northeast this past weekend with my daughter on college visits that this may be the last car I buy that can’t drive itself.  If not this next car, the one after that will certainly be the last that can be human piloted, especially given the pace of change of technology and my much slower replacement rate for cars.  Later today I came to the further realization that my kid’s kids will likely never even learn to drive a car.
There are already a few examples of self driving cars roaming some streets today.  I imagine that there are several Manhattan projects going on at all the major auto companies to be the first one to bring a commercial self driving car to market.  From there, I think it will be a decade or less before the cost of having a human piloted car will be so high (specifically the insurance costs) that the market will evaporate.  It could even end in legislation that outlaw human driven cars (maybe that was what Rush meant by “motor laws“…), you know, for “the children.”
This makes me a little said.  I like driving.  I find it a meditation of sorts.  I also think it is an important rite of passage, of which there are fewer and fewer these days.  How will teens “know” they are adults if they can get rides to anywhere they want to go as soon as they can talk and ask their googlecar to take them some where?  Sentimentality aside, the important question is: what will my kid’s kids do with all the extra time they get that I spend driving?  If they spend it bettering themselves and learning about the world and about themselves, then so much the better.  If its playing GTA while they get driven to the mall, then I refrain from asking if we’re there yet.






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