‘On-board Computer. Are We Nearly There Yet?’

Are self driving cars here to stay? If the experience of one US driver is to be believed then perhaps they are. His car recently drove itself from San Francisco on the West Coast of the USA to New York on the East Coast.

That’s a total journey of over 3,000 miles. During which time, he claims, the car needed no human intervention. Although he was sitting in the driver’s seat the entire time, he claims not to have touched the steering wheel or pedals at any point in the journey apart from planned stops to rest or refuel.

The car was a converted Toyota Prius which had been fitted with video cameras, computers and a basic digital map. The driver was a former senior engineer at Uber (who had incidentally  been accused by another former employer – Google – of stealing self-driving secrets when he left there to set up another self-driving start up). However, if the story is true then his feat makes this the longest recorded road journey of an autonomous vehicle without a human having to take control.

To put that distance into context, the journey from Lands End to John o’ Groats, ie, the length of Great Britain, is 874 miles. So that’s the equivalent of doing three and a half round trips, without touching a thing!

This clearly opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for drivers making long journeys with families. Having no need to concentrate on their driving, they can now join in games such as Car Cricket, I Spy, Road Trip Bingo or even the License Plate game. Hopefully they can also now join in the singing, eating ice creams and, of course, asking the on-board computer everyone’s favourite question, ‘are we there nearly yet?’.



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