Autonomous Cars and the American Culture

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Autonomous cars are, in my mind, a futuristic idea that isn’t anywhere near completion.  However, according to an article in the National Journal, automakers believe these cars will be on the road as early as 2018.  From this article they describe several different aspects of why autonomous cars will improve our lives.  The three main areas which were focused on were safety, efficiency, and cost savings.  Some benefits of autonomous cars are city planning efficiency and drunk driving reduction.  Automakers also believe that these cars will “safely drive just feet from each other, quadrupling highway capacity.”

With all of this new technology available in cars I question how the American culture will respond to these autonomous cars.  One aspect of these cars is the information sharing that they provide.  To drive efficiently and safely these cars must communicate with each other and with a computer system run by the company.  In a post NSA scandal society where privacy protection is a hot topic of debate I don’t see the American public loving the idea of their information being shared.  Although, with such features as automatic crash report data and cars that can sense when the driving is experiencing a heart attack the benefits may outweigh the cost.

Driving is also an experience that many Americans love to do.  Cursing down an open highway with the windows day is a classic subject in American culture that is engrained in our music, movies, and television.  I believe that at first these autonomous cars will face a lot of resistance due to this social experience that we all cherish.  However, if autonomous cars allow us to do homework or answer emails on our long commutes to jobs then maybe the American public would be okay with losing some of the driving time that we love.  The future of cars could be autonomous automobiles and while at first I believe the American public will resist this change, eventually the benefits will push our resistance to the side.


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