Self-driving cars take away the thrill

Self Driving Uber
Matthew Reitveld / The Watchdog

With recent advancements in technology, people are coming up with all kinds of ideas that seemed impossible a decade ago. One of the most prominent is the idea of a car that can drive itself. Cars are becoming closer to being completely autonomous, with many new models offering the option of semi-autonomous driving.
I can understand the need to always be advancing technology. It seems like nearly everything in modern life is “smart” this or “autonomous” that, but the introduction of self-driving cars is taking away from the enjoyment and sheer joy that a fun driving experience can bring.
Modern life can be stressful, and especially here in Seattle driving can get very old. Hours of sitting in stop-and-go traffic can make a commuter cringe when they think of getting behind the wheel. But now more than ever, people are losing sight of the fact that cars can offer more than luxury.
Although many cars are still advertised based on power and speed, they require less and less effort to drive as the industry advances. All it takes to go fast is the ability to push down on a pedal. Cars have become nothing but giant computers, out of touch with the driver.
Autonomous cars only enforce this idea. People are moving away from viewing driving as an experience that can be enjoyable and engaging, despite the fact that a huge portion of the average person’s time is spent operating a car. Shiny paint, fancy stereo systems and posh interiors have becoming more desirable than a pure driving experience. The role of a car is turning into catering to the driver’s needs as luxuriously as possible.
I can see how self-driving cars could be helpful on a long road trip or while sitting in heavy traffic. Staying focused after staring at a road for hours on end can be difficult and sometimes dangerous if the driver falls victim to highway hypnosis. Though some people may argue that it is unreliable, autopilot can be a safety feature. But many cars that feature autopilot are so computerized that the driver loses touch with the vehicle.
Forget about manual transmission, that’s completely out of the picture, and so is the steering wheel now. The driver can just sit back, relax and let the car do all of the work for them as it plays their favorite music based on voice control and massages their back.
Driving can be so much more than an experience of relaxation. Gone is the value of a car that is one with the driver, relying on the expertise of the person behind the wheel rather than lines of code in a computer. It’s all about effortlessness.
I think that despite the innovation and technology that is being seen in the modern day, it is important to preserve the bare-bones driving experience. Having just bought a car with a manual transmission, I appreciate the experience more than ever. To fully enjoy driving, a relationship with the car is required as well as experience and expertise from the driver.
Not only is old technology ultimately more fun, it is also cheaper. For some, sticking with the old stuff is the only possible way to have a car – and that should not be looked down upon. It does not take skill to buy a high-end Mercedes-Benz, but driving a manual Honda Civic or Mazda Miata does – and when driven right, can bring just as much joy as a car worth five times the cash.
In a world where seemingly everything is being replaced by computers and robots, it’s difficult not to lose sight of the joy that can be found in a simple, honest old car. Given some love, attention and possibly a little extra money for restoration, an old car that doesn’t even have power windows can be worth just as much as a new self-driving ride.
Nonetheless, the future for vehicles is amazingly bright. With Tesla paving the way in self-driving cars, Uber testing their self-driving taxis and more efficient fuel-saving technology being invented, there is no question that the idea of driving will be incredibly different from what it is today. In addition, these highly advanced cars will probably cost a lot more and hopefully, people will be making more money too.
My first car – a 1996 Honda Accord – took me and my friends on trips to the beach, hikes in the mountains, and long drives through the snow. Cushiness wasn’t an important factor in the experience that the car brought. Even though I made the investment to move on to a newer car, I will never forget about the value an old trusty vehicle can bring.