On three separate occasions yesterday, I almost died.
All three were on my way to work. All three were while I was a passenger in the car. All three were because of idiots in other cars.
The first, we were driving along heading towards a roundabout. We were doing the right thing, not following the car in front too closely. At the same time, we weren’t miles back either.
From the other side of the road, facing the other way, the first idiot made their move. Driving an Audi RS4, the driver made the snap decision to do a U-turn across the road from the other side in front of us.
He was lucky we didn’t crash into him. We were lucky we could swerve to the side and there wasn’t another vehicle in the way.
Making it even worse, he didn’t even bother to acknowledge what he’d done. It makes me wonder if he ever realised the danger he put us in.
Commuting shouldn’t be this stressful and dangerous
The second idiot wasn’t far removed. We were travelling in a dual-lane road, the right-hand lane was filling up with traffic as it was heading to a traffic light complex. The right lane was a right turning lane.
Hence for the rest of us cars wanting to either head straight through or turn left, we were heading past the cars, now stationary on the right side.
Again, we weren’t speeding, we were just going with the flow of the traffic. We were turning left at the traffic lights, just simply heading to the intersection.
Then out of nowhere an idiot in a large Volvo XC90 decided, without even indicating, to swerve out of the right lane. They tried to fit into a gap that didn’t exist in front of us. And from a stationary start going uphill in a large SUV, they were never going to make it.
But they went for it anyway. Something in their tiny brain decided now was the time to jam on the accelerator and make a move, putting their lives and ours in danger.
Luckily, we were in a position again where we had the ability to jam on the brakes, avoiding a collision. And luckily there wasn’t someone up our backside that would have come careering into us.
Two near misses in one morning. Not a great start to the day.
And then there was a third.
We were heading across a large roundabout that had two lanes going around it. We were in the left lane, heading straight across. No problem there. No traffic coming through the roundabout, so we head on in, calmly and patiently.
As we’re nearly halfway across, an idiot in a white VW Golf comes screaming up on our right side, on the inside lane of the roundabout. She was flying through the roundabout as we were. She flung the car in and around coming out around the same time as us.
No real problems there, she stayed in her lane (just) and we stayed in ours. She was going too fast, but it hadn’t put us in danger…yet.
At that moment, she decided to turn left from the right-hand lane across the front of our car. And again, we were the ones taking evasive action. Again, having to brake hard to ensure she didn’t rip the front of our car off and put us all into the trees on the side of the road.
This isn’t how the daily commute is supposed to be. Add to the mix the hour and a half taken in the afternoon on the way home. Commuting shouldn’t be this bad, stressful, or dangerous.
But it is. For now, at least.
Welcome to the future
That could all be on the cusp of radical change. In fact, the daily commute may change so fast that for most people they’re taken completely by surprise.
And it’s coming in the shape of a self-driving car. But it’s not really a car. It’s just a moving self-driving pod. There’s no steering wheel, no pedals. There’s no centre consoles, and the seats all face inwards. There’s loads of space, big doors to easily get in and out of the pod.
It’s safe, far safer than having a human at the helm. It abides by the road laws, moves with existing traffic smoothly, but at speed because it can see and predict what’s going to happen around it in a way that humans can’t.
It’s also going to save people around $5,000 per year in costs for getting around town.
That’s right. There are legitimate, tangible cost savings coming thanks to self-driving cars. The promise, the hype, it’s here and it’s real. Not talking about testing or pilot programs or prototype ‘cars’.
I’m talking about a ready to go, commercial, we’ll see it on the roads, self-driving pod.
Welcome to the future. Welcome to a world with the Cruise ‘Origin’.
Cruise is a self-driving car company that’s been working on changing how we get from place to place. While they operate somewhat independently, they are in fact a company owned by General Motors (GM).
GM bought Cruise in 2016 paying around US$1 billion. Today less than four years later, Cruise has unveiled the ‘Origin’ — it’s first mass market self-driving car.
And it’s ready to go.
Yesterday Cruise debuted the Origin and the features and benefits it’s going to deliver.
Their announcement explained:
‘We are committed to improving life in our cities. That’s why we’re designing the Origin to be an affordable, comfortable, and scalable solution. With the Origin’s ability to drive day and night and last for more than a million miles, we’ll be able to cut up to $5,000 in transportation costs per San Francisco household, per year.’
The Origin also isn’t a car you will buy. It’s a car we will all share, that we will call on demand. That we will use to get around with other Origins on the road to get from A to B. That will cut the cost of owning a car. It will cut the cost of public transport. It will refine how we think about getting from our homes to anywhere.
Change is hard and strange, and it’s not easy. But if the outcome is easy, safe, and cost-effective, then change will always win. And before you know it, you’ll be jumping into an Origin without thought, concern, or hesitation.
This is what our future looks like. The future that just landed on our doorstep today. This is the future that self-driving car tech promises. And as the Origin shows, it’s ready to go.
Editor, Money Morning
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