I need a password to BRAKE? What? No! STOP! Aaaargh!
Welcome to the age of the self-crashing car
Something for the Weekend, Sir? “Why are Volvos called Volvos? Because their drivers are cunts.”
So pronounced one of my bosses in my student holiday job days, as he sat, Buddha-like, at the head of the baggage-handlers’ crew-room at Leeds-Bradford Airport, delivering his words of wisdom to a weary audience of one.
I eventually learned that Volvo drivers are nothing of the sort. Besides, it’s unfair to generalise. Well, with the exception of BMW drivers, of course, who deserve their collective noun status by representing an unnaturally uniform blight on Britain’s roads. And pavements.
No, seriously, what right-minded individual would pay that much for a car that lacks working indicators and cannot be parked outside a supermarket except diagonally across three spaces?
The weird thing is that I have occasionally accepted short-term loans of BMWs from wealthier colleagues over the years and I can personally attest to the high quality of the vehicles. So the cars themselves are just fine, it seems – in which case, there is no question that it must be the way in which they are driven by their owners that is at fault.
I would therefore like to suggest that BMW directs its attention to driverless technology. It would be cheap to implement because its cars are 90 per cent self-driving already, given that BMW drivers can’t fucking drive.
By the look of some recent trials, it’s not clear that self-driving systems can drive either. Sure, Google can send a futuristic golf cart along a private tarmacked billiard table on a sunny day while passengers can relax, play video games or simply wind down the windows to shout abuse at the reckless road-sense of overtaking tortoises, but that’s not what real road transport is like.
What if it rains, for example? Here’s a video record of Hyundai’s self-driving car competition held some weeks ago. You may wish to turn down the audio because the annoying wailing siren in the background can get annoying. But I hope you enjoy the feeling of hurtling down a main road without a driver in poor visibility before randomly veering between lanes, driving into the grass, zooming past roadside pedestrians without slowing down, mounting kerbs and struggling to reverse into a single space in an otherwise totally empty car park.
I suspect Hyundai’s development team has been consulting BMW drivers for tips on highway technique.
My favourite clip is this one at about 1:20 as one of the cars – this time on a sunny day – carefully slows down, dutifully indicates left and then slowly but diligently plunges head-first into a ditch.
Thanks, I can walk from here.