Self Driving Car As Appliance: Coming Soon To A Garage Near You

Elon Musk says one day the self driving car will be as common and as non-controversial as the self service elevator. People don’t hyperventilate about an elevator that go up and down automatically and (usually) stop precisely at the proper floor. Why should a self driving car be any different? Is the age of the automobile as appliance upon us?

Tesla self driving car

It certainly seems that way. Tesla has just hired away Chris Lattner from Apple to be the head honcho of its Autopilot software department. Lattner worked at Apple for 11 years, where he was responsible for many software innovations including Swift, Apple’s proprietary programming language.

Lattner is no car guy. His description of the self driving car of the future sounds more like a testimonial for a refrigerator or washing machine than an automobile. “I want to accelerate the path to cars being appliances that solve people’s problems,” he tells MacRumors.

“I’m personally not the kind of guy who loves doing oil changes and fiddling around with them. I just want something that is reliable, that works, ideally drives me everywhere I want to go, and I don’t have to think about it. It’s solving my problems, it’s not something I have to care for, feed and maintain. That’s the way I look at cars.”

Cars as soulless machines, drones that save us from the drudgery of driving back and forth to work, 5 times a week, 50 weeks a year. Appliances that park themselves, plug themselves in, know where we are and where we are going at all times. Oh, joy. Be still my beating heart.

Self driving cars may decrease congestion in our cities and cut auto emissions. They may allow us to rent our cars out when we are not using them to generate extra income. But will they ever evoke the sort of passion that a Shelby Cobra, a Ford GT, a Jaguar XK 140, or a Ferrari GTO does?

There is a disconnect even within Tesla. On one hand, the California based manufacturer of electric cars is offering people a 5 passenger sedan that can accelerate to 60 mph in the time it takes most of us to locate and answer our phones. On the other hand, it is building cars that offer about as much driving excitement as your basic Maytag washer/dryer combination.

Elon Musk must know what he’s doing. Tesla Motors has gone from success to success since it started barely 10 years ago. Perhaps the world needs self driving appliances more than it needs another Lamborghini Miura. But then again, perhaps not.

Source: MacRumors via The Next Web



Steve Hanley

Closely following the transition from internal combustion to electricity. Whether it's cars, trucks, ships, or airplanes, sustainability is the key. Please follow me on Google + and Twitter.