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The beginning of the end

14.03.2017

Many of us are of the belief that all good things must come to an end at some point. For drivers that might be sooner rather than later as I discovered after driving the tech-laden BMW 7-series recently.

You see, the 7-series is packed with electronics designed to make driving as safe as possible. Like the movie i-Robot, the only way to make something really and truly safe is to remove the human factor completely. Let me elaborate.

Just like the above mentioned movie, humans create machines to look after them and make their lives easier, until these machines realise that we are a silly bunch and decide that the only way to save us, is to take complete control.

I fear that we are slowly relieving ourselves of the ability to drive and by spending time in the BMW, this became very apparent. You see, the car has some amazing technologies such as Active Cruise Control. This, when activated, quite literally gives the vehicle control over the tedious task of driving.

It will apply the brakes and accelerate depending on the conditions around it. It also has a feature called Active Lane Keep Assist which, as the name suggest, keeps it dead centre within the lane. The steering wheel even turns without human intervention. In fact, the only reason someone has to be behind the wheel is because we have people called lawyers who like to hold us accountable for things.

The rate of advancement made with regards to autonomous driving has been rapid over the past few years. I remember watching sci-fi movies which had cars driving themselves and thinking that is so unreal. Well, it its happening and not good at all for us petrol-heads. Why is that you might ask? Well, I don’t know about you but I enjoy driving a car myself. Ah, but these systems can be turned off, I hear you say. For how long? How long will there be a choice? I’m already reading articles of areas in cities that are becoming autonomous car friendly.

Before you know it, cars will just be tools we use to get from A to B. But then again, maybe that’s what they were supposed to be from the get-go. Our lust for thrill, danger and beauty has created an industry where supercars that occupy our walls and screensavers become the stuff that dreams are made of.

The way things are going though, those cars will soon be obsolete. They will exist in a world that no longer needs or wants them. Don’t get me wrong, autonomous cars are safer because some of us are just not designed to drive. We South Africans have developed dangerous and reckless habits on the road. Having a standardised system controlled by a machine will save lives.

As marvellous, luxurious and technologically advanced as the BMW 7-series is, I fear we are losing our ability to do things ourselves. We live in a world where we rely on our smartphones so much that it’s difficult to go a few hours without them; how long before we all give up driving and just rely on a machine? I know about the advantages, especially regarding safety, but I’m not ready for change, I’m not ready to give up the joy and yes, even the frustration of the drive, are you?

Article written by Justin Jacobs
14.03.2017
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