I’m here to predict your future. I don’t have a crystal ball, I’m not a witch and I’m not the smartest person you’re ever going to meet, but I have visions. I love electronic toys and I love cars, so it makes sense that I love shiny cars loaded with gizmos and whatchamacallits that lead to seizures after staring at them too long. I’m not going to predict lotto numbers or when the Philadelphia Eagles are going to win a Superbowl (prediction-never) but I can tell you that self driving cars are coming for you and there isn’t a thing anyone can do about it. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Traffic jams are everywhere now, even in small towns, mostly because of cell phones. It seems that three out of four cars at any given traffic light or stop sign contain a driver who is killing time texting, checking Facebook or Tweeting about how bad the traffic is on the way to the gym. This is, of course, annoying and possibly illegal. I can predict that one day in your near future, you will be sitting at a left turn light and the driver of the car in front of you will be finishing their status update as the light turns green and you must decide if 3 seconds of waiting is long enough to honk the horn and then you’ll just miss the green, unlike the person you just honked at who has just screwed you and the 17 people behind you. You then contemplate updating your Facebook status about the idiot in front of you who… and then the light is green again. This is why we will all be forced to succumb to self-driving cars. Think about that. Getting in to a little egg-shaped-car-thing with a fancy label that you have no control of, speeding down the highway with thousands of other similarly labeled eggs. Sure, you’ll have plenty of time to post on Futurebook, or whatever it will be called, about how bored you are waiting for your egg to arrive at your destination. But at least it will be a safe, trouble-free ride. Or will it be?
Mercedes-Benz currently makes safe, wonderful, speedy, blingy cars that most of us will never be able to afford. So why should you, the salt of the earth Chevy-Ford-Toyota-Honda-Chrysler-Jeep-Eagle driver care what anyone is doing over in Germany? Because that’s where they are currently designing and building your future. Mercedes-Benz made an electric car over 100 years ago and it worked. They also were the first to crash cars in the name of safety in the 1930’s until their country decided to start a war, OONT they pioneered anti-lock brakes back in the 1970’s OONT still found the time to patent air-bags in the early ‘80s which were followed by those big yellow WARNING stickers on the sun visors that tell you to wear your seatbelt because “zee airbags could cause partial decapitation.”
Autovation is a good word to describe what they do. Right now, you can buy one of their cars that does that creepy self parallel parking thing. You can also get it equipped with this thing called Adaptive Cruise Control that basically drives the car for busy little you. Mercedes currently offers an optional feature in their cars called PRE-SAFE. This witchcraft can detect an imminent collision so, right before impact, the Benz tightens the seat belts, and adjusts the head restraints to make the impending crash more comfortable for you. Mercedes also sells cars that know if you’re falling asleep at the wheel. If you start drifting out of your lane, the seat vibrates, the steering wheel turns itself and stops you from really embarrassing yourself. At this time, I am going to refrain from making a vibrating seat joke but if someone at Mercedes-Benz would like to demonstrate this feature, I am currently available at a moment’s notice.
All of these safety measures are great and will eventually be found in even the most inexpensive cars, but they won’t be necessary. That person in traffic in front of you making the left at the light is not going to stop updating their status that involves pictures of the food they ate today and how many kilometers they ran, so the very serious engineers at Mercedes are secretly working on keeping you safe by developing non-polluting, self-driving, attractively labeled and presumably invisible egg-shaped cars that will give you a manicure while you get your facial so you can update Futurebook during your morning commute. I just hope it has vibrating seats.
Erica Habedank/ CW44 Tampa Bay