Voices

The future of driving is likely to be boring…

Enjoy driving your car while you can. Enjoy using a manual gearshift yourself while you can… because the future of driving is likely to be boring.

APOLOGIES FOR acting the Merchant of Doom but it’s true, the future of driving is likely to be one of the most boring, unenjoyable things you’ll ever do in the future. Yes, technology has generally made things if not better then, at least, easier.

But I’m not so sure about giving up driving… I like driving and I like writing about cars; it’s why I started this website. But within my lifetime that ‘pleasure’ is likely to be sucked out of motoring as it becomes nothing more than a way of getting from A to B without any driver involvement. Like owning a Toyota Camry.

Just the other day I watched an old couple driving at about 30km/h under the speed limit, but as I zipped past them, I looked across. And you know what? They were both smiling… And that’s because they still had their independence; I honestly don’t think anyone will get that same rush, or sense of freedom from climbing in behind the wheel (oops, won’t be any need for one of these) of an autonomous car.

I remember when I got my licence and was allowed to drive my very own car for the very first time. On my own. I suddenly had the freedom to drive wherever I wanted to… In the end, I went and collected a mate and we ended up driving up and down the main street of our town for about an hour. That in itself, a ‘ doing a main-ey’, was a rite of passage… Imagine trying to program that into the navigation of an autonomous car.

Companies like Google, Apple, Uber and almost all of the major automakers have set their boffins to work on developing autonomous driving technology. Why? I kind of think it might be a solution to a problem that we don’t yet have.

See, driving on the freeway is not very difficult. And if you do find it a chore then you shouldn’t be behind the wheel of a car in the first place. Catch the train instead. And, if you can’t handle a bit of traffic on your daily commute then either move closer to work, or, well, catch the flippin’ train and get off the road.

Autonomous cars, as far as I’m concerned, are the brainchild of people who find driving a bore. And yet the rest of us will have to suffer because of it. Sure, car companies are still trundling nuts cars, like the Alfa Romeo Giulia, but behind the scenes it’s full steam ahead on the development of cars that can drive themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, I think technology like active lane keeping systems is very clever and very useful, but I really don’t want much more ‘control’ built into my car. I also really like electric cars… and, rather than autonomous cars, I’d rather car makers spent more time and effort on the development of cars running on alternative fuels, like electricity.

Porsche, Volkswagen, Ford and BMW have announced they are joining forces to develop a Europe-wide electricity charging station network. This is a very good idea, but not if at the same time these companies are also working on autonomous cars that will simply drive themselves from one of these filling stations (sorry, charging stations – old habits) to the next.

So, let’s put autonomous driving technology into the ‘not right now’ basket and instead focus on building cars that are more efficient and friendly to the environment, but that are still fun to drive.

Because, once we give up on driving and let our cars do it for us, what will be next to go? Gardening? Will we simply have a green screen type set up in our backyards and project an image of whatever type of garden we want. Will cooking simply become heating up?

Question: Do you share my concerns about autonomous motoring, or are you looking forward to losing control?


  • Vins

    Unfortunately the younger generations don’t share the same passion that we have. They will be thrived if cars can drive themselves, that means they have more time to stay ‘connected ‘. Many years ago car industries had already realized that the younger generations are getting less and interesred in cars. Perhaps that the autonomous cars are their way to stay relevance. BMW might need to change their slogan one day to: The ultimate rolling machines.

  • DJR96

    I’m a driving enthusiast as much as anyone. But of the near 30 years of my driving life we have seen a decline in the overall standard of driving in Australia. I put that down to over enforcement of speed at the expense of all the other road rules. But also in that time, despite meddling with P-plate procedures, we as a nation have done nothing to actually improve the standard of driving. And there is nothing to indicate this will change in the future either.
    So as I see it, the only way we’re going to see any significant improvement in the road toll, is to remove the driver from the equation. Fully self-driving cars are the only solution to that. Other than public transport of course. So bring it on.

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.