From Horseless Carriages to Driverless Cars
"The Shade Ring Trilogy" is set a hundred years in the future so I absolutely must include driverless cars. Like it or not, they’re already here. It’s just a matter of time for regulations to be ironed out, more mapping to be done and more glitches to be fixed before autonomous cars are ferrying us around as we sit glued to our smartphones, doing important things like laughing at cat videos on Facebook or designing clever hashtags to get more retweets on Twitter.
And if you’re nervous about driverless cars, you’ll have to get over it, just like your great grandparents got over the arrival of horseless carriages. Now that was a major leap in technology! One that wasn't universally welcome, either. Those early motor cars were described as noisy, dirty, disruptive, unnatural and too dang fast. Of course, many cities were tired of the old-fashioned "pollution" created by horses, in the form of tons of manure that had to be cleaned from city streets every day.
The development of autonomous cars has actually occurred in stages. Originally, you had to turn a crank to start the engine. That became a turn of the key. Drivers had to use a clutch and shift gears until the automatic transmission became the standard. We easily got used to power windows and cruise control. More recently, we've adjusted to developments like crash prevention systems that automatically hit the brakes when you don’t notice a car stopped in front of you. The auto industry has been getting us used to autonomous cars little by little for years.
One of the biggest challenges might be something that doesn’t directly involve the technology itself. Liability insurance could be a sticky issue. Who’s at fault if your driverless car is in a wreck? (BBC story)
Still, when I created the world of 2117 for "The Shade Ring Trilogy," I decided driverless cars would be common, although some people would choose to disengage the autonomous mode, either for pleasure or for other pressing reasons. Assuming they still know how to operate a vehicle. It may be Sci-fi, but at least I’m not predicting flying cars.
"Albedo Effect," Book 2 of "The Shade Ring Trilogy," will be published this summer. Book 3 is due out early 2017. If you’d like to sign up for occasional updates on my books, sign up here.