by Roger Bourke White Jr., copyright February 2017
Let me reminisce first: I got my driver's license in 1964. It was a rite of passage that I was most proud of and delighted to accomplish. I remember my father starting to teach me how to drive a year earlier by letting me sit in his lap and push the break pedal as he took me to school in the early morning. From that simple beginning I steadily learned more and more. I learned to drive, learned to drive better and better, and I still love doing it. I've driven in all fifty states. Some places I have liked a lot better than others -- Boston was the worst and Utah the best.
Things have changed a lot since those beginning days. Seat belts were optional, gasoline nozzles didn't have automatic shut-offs, and my father didn't get a radio in his car. (My mother, on the other hand, felt that was an essential feature in her's.)
Consumer Reports is something I've read off-and-on over the decades. (I'm off now.) I find their style to be over-sensitive to safety issues and odd features of the product rather than the overall functionality of what they are reviewing. This article on upcoming auto changes matches that theme.
That said, the insights that cities will be transformed are right on. And, yes, they will become more "Hobbiton". (my term) This Hobbiton transformation produces a lot of inefficiency in moving things and people from Point A to Point B, but if automation and drones are doing the heavy lifting on getting things done and moved, this won't be as frustrating as it is today. You can experience this Hobbiton-style frustration when you deal with the gated communities of today, and with speed bumps wherever you find them.
The curious part about the Audi features described in this article is that most of them I have already. Hint One: you want to know when the light is going to change, watch the pedestrian crosswalk lights. They have the count downs the Audi feature is talking about. Hint Two: traffic lights have patterns. Get to know the patterns and lots of uncertainty goes away.
One change not mentioned is that the driver's license will lose its standing as a rite of passage. Something else will signal to teenagers that they have "made it" and are now part of real society. One of the mysteries of the future is what will become that new rite of passage.