Drivers? Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Drivers
*This is a sponsored conversation*
I recently got the awesome opportunity to explore the Detroit Autoshow as press with She Buys Cars. I feel a little ashamed to say this, since I am a Detroiter, always been a Detroiter, but I had never been to the North American International Auto Show. I live in the suburb of a city known for one of two things: music or cars.
But to be honest, I’m not that big of a car person. I actually mentioned this to a guy I was chatting with while waiting for a press conference and the guy in front of us turned around and was like, what are you doing here then? Don’t say that too loud or people are going to mob you.
It’s true though. I’m not someone who is all into cars, can name cars as they go by, and definitely not someone who can tell you the specs. What I know about cars is simple: they can look pretty, shiny, and possibly go fast. Oh, and the ones I adore? I definitely cannot afford. (see below)
I think one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of cars is because I’m not a big fan of driving. I get really, really bored. When I drove to New York last fall, it took FOREVER. I legit turned on Netflix on my phone and listened to three different movies. I pulled over for naps. I almost cried when I saw the sign, Welcome to Michigan, because it meant I could get out of the car soon.
I’ve always said that what I need is a car that drives itself. And lucky for me, that future is a lot closer than I ever thought.
Meet the car of the future from Waymo, Google’s self driving car company. To be honest, it looks ridiculous, with the giant sensors and gadgets all over. But this car, it can drive itself. Heck, it will be driving itself around California and Arizona later this month.
I wish I could tell you how it works, but most of what John Krafcik (the chief exec) said went right over my head. You know how when you listen to people speaking a foreign lanuage and you wish you could understand them? That was me listening to scientific car talk. What I did understand was from watching the video that played on repeat behind him: a blind man getting into a car and “driving” somewhere else. Some teenagers “driving” while texting on their phones. A parent “driving” their kid somewhere while they laugh at whatever game they were playing on a tablet.
Ok, I did understand a little bit of what John Krafcik said. When they first started working on building an autonomous car, they used parts from a bunch of different companies. They decided to start making the parts themselves, which reduced costs by 90%. The technology in the car is so wild that it can tell which way someone is facing, even if that person is standing completely still.
Waymo (Google) isn’t the only one getting into the autonomous car game. Practically every major car maker had a concept car on display which featured autonomous driving.
One of my favorites was the Volkswagen I.D. Buzz. It is set to launch in 2020, where it will be the first electric van to feature fully autonomous driving. It will be able to get 270 miles per charge. Plus, it just looks really, really cool.
Side note: I REALLY want a gnome in my car.
My next favorite truly is a car of the future. It is called the Oasis, from car maker Rinspeed. Unfortunately, this car will only be concept.
It has a little garden in the windshield and the windshield itself works as a tv, showing you how to turn (if you wanted to actually drive) or letting you watch movies.
The seats completely turn and the steering wheel flips to become a keyboard with built in cupholders.
Toyota saw the trend of making concept cars look as futuristic as crazy and ran above and beyond with it. The FCV Plus runs on hydrogen and somehow has the ability to act as a power source to other cars.
One of the concept cars I was actually allowed to touch was the GAC EnSpirit.
At first glance, I had no clue it was a concept car. I just loved the paint color. But when I got up close to it, I realized… there are no door handles. None. I tried to ask the rep, but we had a major communication barrier. Luckily, he understood me enough and showed me how to open it. See me opening the car with crazy insane delight below.
Unfortunately, I can’t tell you much about the car because the press kit was all in Chinese. All I know is that this is a cool car and I need one.
When walking around and listening in on people’s conversations (come on, we all do it), I realized that these autonomous cars may be made BY baby boomers, but they aren’t really made FOR baby boomers. Most everyone over the age of 40 mentioned safety as a big concern with self driving cars. Millennials on the other hand, we are excited. By time these cars are on the market, we will be able to buy them. And buy them we will.
Would you ride in an autonomous car? What feature would you love a car of the future to have?