Where’s The Fun When Your Car Drives For You?

Most people have some fun memories of a road trip, or a stretch of rad they enjoyed driving on, but what happens when you don’t have that opportunity anymore because the car drives for you, will it still be as much fun?

Mercedes-Benz , Cadillac, Volvo–not to mention Google GOOGL -1.51%, Tesla and, rumor has it, Apple AAPL +0.00%–are all racing to relieve drivers of that fun. Within five years, most automakers say, they’ll offer highly automated cars that can handle stop-and-go traffic and freeway speeds without any driver input. In ten years drivers will be able to work or even take a nap during their commute. Volvo just unveiled the Time Machine, a futuristic cockpit with a 25-inch flat-screen that rotates out of the dashboard as the steering wheel retreats and the driver reclines. Google is developing self-driving cars that don’t even come with a steering wheel or gas pedal.

This is the future, asserts Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk. “Any cars that are being made that don’t have full autonomy will have negative value,” he predicted in a November conference call with Wall Street analysts. “It will be like owning a horse. You’re really owning it for sentimental reasons.”

Not everyone thinks so. “It’s not just getting from point A to point B,” says Mazda’s soft-spoken CEO, Masamichi Kogai, who heads up perhaps the only major automaker that is not working on autonomous cars. “Our mission is to provide the essence of driving pleasure.

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6 Issues With Autonomous Driving

With a car driving for you will it be safer than driving for yourself? Or are you opening yourself to different, dangerous possibilities.

As more than 800 engineers, software developers, transportation experts and other technical folks met last week in this Detroit suburb to discuss the risks and benefits of autonomous and connected vehicles, they were raising more questions than finding answers.

Here are six unsolved challenges that stand between the technologies’ potential and reality:

  1. Cybersecurity and privacy protection. Maybe this can’t be solved until there are thousands of pilot vehicles on our roads, but last week Wired magazine writer Andy Greenberg wrote about two cybersecurity experts who accessed a newer Jeep Cherokee’s computer brain through its Uconnect infotainment system and rewrote the firmware to plant their malicious code. The result: hip-hop began blasting through the stereo system, the AC turned to maximum force. Then the hacker’s code killed the transmission and brakes. We know autonomous cars will have even more software coding. One major attack and consumer confidence in the technology could be severely damaged.
  1. How much will these vehicles cost? Established automakers are introducing progressively more advanced autonomous features in their most expensive models. Ride-hailing or other fleet-based services such as Uber or Lyft will try to deliver their service at a lower price than competing options.

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