Tuesday, 28 July 2015

The Internet of Thinks

Driving back from Wales through the drizzle, lorry spray, lane-hoppers and self-fulfilling prophesies on the traffic displays, I rather fancied one of these driverless cars we hear about.  I know the technology’s not quite perfected yet, but Moore’s Law assures me that it will be by next Friday.

So, I’m wishing I was sitting in the back seat, nodding off while my car navigates the roadworks  between junctions 14 and 13, imagining the near future…

I’ve been down the pub in the next-but-several village, and I know I’m three pints over the limit.  Or four.  Or several.  I can still work a phone, though, so I tap up the SmartCar app and tell Siri: “Car!  Come here!”  Car, of course, knows where ‘here’ is – it’s where the phone is – so she checks her charge, backs out of the car park of some pub in the, or a, previous village and sets off down the lane.

This is when Car’s GPS gets hacked or confused and decides that the best route is via Zeebrugge.  Car makes her way to Felixstowe, crosses the North Sea on a ferry she’s booked through O&P, does a three-point and pulls onto the car deck for the return trip.  Being the precision-engineered artefact she is, she stops exactly 5 millimeters behind the vehicle in front, which then reverses.  Car instantaneously does the same.  Unfortunately, the human driver of the 18-wheeler behind is less precision-engineered, and rams into her backside.

The insurance claim is ongoing.  The latest I heard, the software developer at Goggle was being held to account.  Meanwhile, I’d summoned a driverless Ubre taxi, which delivered me safely to Tavistock, where I was informed by my fridge back in Norfolk that I was getting low on cottage cheese.

Human error?  Yes, it always is.  The question being, which human?


  1. What is it with these motorway signs that warn of animals on the road, nowadays? I've had them on three occasions now, we've all driven cautiously for miles, looking out for the livestock and never seen a dickey-bird ... or anything else.

  2. Motorway signs, one of my bonnet-bees, as you know. More worryingly, will the driverless cars be able to respond to them? And know when it's safe to ignore them?? (That takes intuition.)

  3. I still keep seeing "London 2012 Olympics - take extra care".
    Maybe I'm dreaming

  4. This reminds me of a comedy sketch what I wrote (in my head, copyrighted of course):
    Two lorries reversing, each with their warning messages: "this lorry is reversing".
    They collide.
    An increasing fractious conversation ensues between the lorries' robotic voices, which have taken personally the lack of evasive action by the other.
    It needs a punchline.
    To whom can I sell it?

  5. You could sell it to the producers of 'Airplane!', if they ever decided to make a follow-up called, say, 'Dustcart!'