Driverless Cars? 'You'll Have To Pry The Steering Wheel Out Of My Cold Dead Hands'

While the technological feasibility of driverless cars may be just around the corner, there are quite a few hurdles between that and market adoption.

Earlier this week, the chief executive of Porsche suggested that his company has no interest in anything but humans driving a Porsche and has no interest in working with any technology company to make anything but that happen.

I wrote about that here a few days ago (Driverless Car? Forget About It. Porsche Says Keep That iPhone In Your Pocket), and based on many readers’ reactions, his comment hit quite a nerve.

The many thoughtful comments were hardly all of one view so I thought it worth sharing some, slightly edited for brevity.

There were those in favor of driverless cars, such as Michael: “I have no doubt that someday in the future, statistics will bear out that driverless cars are dramatically less apt to get into crashes than human controlled. Driverless cars are coming, and, no doubt, driver cars will either become illegal or more expensive in terms of insurance.”

And others had opposite viewpoints, such as Mark: “How do you turn over the control of a 5,000-pound vehicle, with your family or friends on board, to an inanimate pile of plastic, routed to control center that could be hacked by just about any devious person who just would like to see how many cars he can crash? Who has the insurance liabilities, the car? The GPS builder? The server company?”

And then there were those who expressed a bit of skepticism about driverless cars happening at all in the foreseeable future, such as this comment from Chuck: “This is like the video and multimedia hype was to the narrowband dial-up internet of the late 1990s.  And we all know where that went.”

And a bit more skepticism from Mark: “The road from Vegas to Reno is 440 miles. Would a driverless car come in handy there?  The temptation is there, but what kind of technical infrastructure has to be in place to support that 440 miles?  Heck, you can't even get cell service for half the ride.  I'm way too old school, and if they outlaw my 1955 Studebaker Conestoga wagon, they will have to pry the steering wheel out of my cold dead hands.”

There was also some debate about one viewpoint over another. “I’m afraid your concerns come across as more emotional and less rational,” stated one.

And there were viewpoints about the specific views of Porsche CEO Oliver Blume.

Those also came down on sides. Here are three:

            “Oliver Blume's statement may not be right, but it's right for his brand.”

            “A Salute to Mr. Blume, he’s a car guy.”

            “Mr. Blume is shockingly wrong-headed about his market.”

Driverless cars aren’t here yet. But the controversies await.

Are you for driverless cars? What are your concerns?

13 comments about "Driverless Cars? 'You'll Have To Pry The Steering Wheel Out Of My Cold Dead Hands'".
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  1. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US , February 5, 2016 at 9:45 a.m.

    Chuck, thanx for posting the various views, including "My cold dead hands".  More shrapnal from the "Unmanned cars" fiasco. We would all agree, that this would all be regualted by some clever accroynmed government agancy  like   R.O.A.D.S.    Rights Of Automobile Drivers Sanctioned

    And in the tradition of government , comes CONTROL.  Having ONSTAR already creates some of these scenarios.   So would the governemnt , come in and "Lock down" your car if you have a warrant?  Behind in Child support?  Expired Insurance? Missed a car payment? IRS Tax lien?   ETC....
    This is just one more "Nanny State" drive to  show that someone else knows "What is best for you" and by taking control of my steering wheel, they can do a better job  for my safety(?) Name me a government agency that has made life better for anyone.   I'm probably going to die on this hill, because autonomous (unmanned)  cars are an "Error Aparrent" giving up more freedom than you can imagine.  (Please don't compare me to the gun rights fight, it's already been attempted)

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, February 5, 2016 at 10:02 a.m.

    Thanks for your additional comments, Mark. As mentioned, the technology invovled in this issue will be the relativley easy part. We'll be tracking it all here, stay tuned!

  3. Michael Strassman from Similarweb replied, February 5, 2016 at 10:09 a.m.

    "Name me a government agency that has made life better for anyone"....really? How about the social security administration? Think Americans would save enough for retirement on their own...cuz there's a mountain of statistics that say otherwise. The FDA...yeah, they're underfunded and often in questionable relationships with business, but do you really think we'd all be better off left to the mercies of unregulated pharma, agribusiness, and medical device companies...yeah, they've all shown themselves to be paragons of ethical behavior that hasn't harmed anyone in the past. Right. And the most controversial agency of all, the know what you get when you take away the FDA and the EPA?...You get China, a country choking on its own pollution with a dire fresh water problem. A country where thousands can die due to negligence before the government takes action. You want to live in a state of anarchy? Move to Texas and help them secede, and let's see how that works out. 

  4. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, February 5, 2016 at 10:23 a.m.

    Thanks for also chiming in here, Michael. Clearly no one-size-fits-all viewpoints on this.

  5. Dean Fox from ScreenTwo LLC replied, February 5, 2016 at 10:47 a.m.

    "Paranoia strikes deep. Into your heart it will creep . . . "

  6. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, February 5, 2016 at 11:05 a.m.

    Thast was a good song, Dean.

  7. Bob Gordon from The Auto Channel, February 5, 2016 at 11:33 a.m.

    After all of the SV propaganda about autonomous cars and the appliance-izing of the car eliminating need for differentiation in performance, capabilities and the inevitable “Central Road Control Network” that can be co-opted and eliminate our collective freedom of mobility.

    Just as mono-intellegent digital geeks made billions by changing the ad business, so will they disrupt the car business and profit from supplying zombie-like digital car clones.

    We support modern digital driving aids that solve safe driving issues, but taking digital to its autonomous end will encourage shallow thinkers to support a harmful digitally driven automotive world.

  8. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, February 5, 2016 at 11:53 a.m.

    Some of those digital driving aids will be prominenlty featured in Super Bowl commercials this weekend, as an aside, Bob. It is less likly that the technology will drive the transformation and more likley that market adoption/acceptance will.

  9. R MARK REASBECK from www.USAonly.US replied, February 5, 2016 at 12:30 p.m.

    Well said , BOB.  I'm with ya.

  10. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, February 5, 2016 at 4:48 p.m.

    So I'm a skeptic. I don't yet see enough consumer value to justify the loss of control (the comments you received covered both sides - and they didn't change my opinion). Tech companies love to invent things just becasue they can (can you say CES 2016?). 
    Of course, I should admit that I still like to drive a stick and the paddle shifters on my new Explorer are really cool to use. So I guess i'm a car guy.

  11. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, February 5, 2016 at 5:02 p.m.

    CES was a good point, Doug, as it makes the case every year. And many with cars actually still like to actually drive. So guess we'll see.

  12. Michael Strassman from Similarweb, February 9, 2016 at 9:28 a.m.

    The major benefit, besides cutting down accidents significantly, is cuttinng traffic. The entire car ecosystem is incredibly inefficient in terms of optimizing number of cars on the road and speed for the simple reason that everyone acts as an individual agent and cannot see the big picture. When all cars are able to communicate with one another (or at least most) they can calculate new routes, redirect traffic, and change speed in a huge, complex, and dynamic system, enabling all cars to get from A to B more efficiently. I don't know the stats, but I know there are huge inefficiencies which could be wrung out of the system to reduce everyone's commute time. As a car nut myself, I welcome being able to turn over control of my car for the boring and mundane task of getting me to and from work and would then prefer to drive myself during times when you don't need to be so efficient and driving is actually enjoyable.

  13. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin replied, February 10, 2016 at 10:26 a.m.

    Points well taken, Michael. Another great example of this is automated parking. And sensors finally are being used to identify available parking spaces in several cities, though all are works in progress.

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