This scenario concerns self-driving vehicles (SDVs). In the year 2025, self-driving vehicles can be used in most European cities. Over the past few years, technology has come a long way and safety levels have been consistently better than human driver error for some time. Those who can afford SDVs are usually the cool, trendy, tech types who use the SDV as an extension of the personal work/life space where one can work, sleep, read, eat, watch movies or TV, or just observe their surroundings. Non-owners can rent the machines at charges competitive with those for cars that require a driver. There are few parked cars now, and much less traffic than a decade ago. Public spaces have become more open and you rarely see elderly or disabled people or people with prams struggling to cross streets thronged with cars.
This suits Adrian’s lifestyle a lot: “I am able to work in my car, while commuting. When you factor in an hour commute each way, I get back 10 hours of my life from the commute every week. I sit back with my laptop, while listening to Spotify. It’s great!” Adrian’s Waymo Centauri b is one of the few permitted self-driving car models on the market and has been one of the most widely adopted of these vehicles, so far. Inter-city driving, however, is still “a nuisance when I have to drive outside München. It takes a while to get used to the wheel again,” Adrian claims.
Some controversial incidents have made headlines in the past few years. A woman died in labour a few months ago, as the SDV would not exceed the speed limit to rush her to hospital. Her husband did as much as possible under the guidance of doctors via cameras, but it was not enough. Many questioned why he didn’t take over the car, but he did not have a driving licence, and, in any event, the car-sharing company would not allow him to take over for insurance reasons. He claimed that if cyber-criminals had taken over the vehicle to create havoc, the car-sharing company or the police would have done something to control the car, so why couldn’t they have done something to save his wife? The husband has taken both the car-sharing company and the police to court; the case is ongoing. It often comes up in conversations. Some, especially taxi drivers, are quick to judge their car-sharing competitors harshly. Others point to this being a rare, tragic event and claim one should not overlook all the benefits SDVs have brought, especially since they became electric. Living in cities would be next to impossible without them nowadays.