Lykins

My kid might be in the last generation that has to drive. 

Any kids he may have  might well be in the last generation allowed to drive.

While the companies haven’t quite cracked autonomous driving yet — depriving me of my dream of living in the world of the 80s television show Knight Rider — it’s on the horizon.

It’s not like my kid wants to drive anyway. 

While to me, and my friends, the automobile was a ticket to the open road and all the freedom that entails, to my son it’s just a convenience.

As he gets ready to turn 15 later this month, he doesn’t have the same rush of excitement that I did.

I was fairly bouncing up and down to get my learner’s permit and bouncing off the walls when I got my driver’s license.

For him, it’s fine.  He’s not agitating for it. If anything we’re agitating for it because we’re tired of ferrying him back and forth to Canyon High School.

And he’s not alone in his ambivalence to driving — or to cars in general. His generation’s lack of drive to drive is something that has automakers nervous.

He’d be perfectly content to hop in a car and punch in a destination and sit back to read while it whisks him to his destination.

I remember being out in the driveway washing my car by hand as a teenager. I took better care of it than I took care of myself.

But can you be that invested in a box that just takes you somewhere? 

At this point I feel like maybe I’m just the old man standing on the lawn screaming at kids, “You know, back in my day...”

But in a decade or so, the push button future of transportation might be a reality. 

All of the auto giants are working on it — as are some of the tech giants like Google and Apple.

And when it arrives we’ll all be forced to re-think how even basic things work.

And how some people won’t work. Because pizza chains and package deliveries are already chomping at the bit to get rid of an enormous ongoing cost. 

Autonomous vehicles might need maintenance but they won’t take vacation or require health care of social security benefits.

Automated big rigs will be able to navigate the freeways 24/7 without the need to stop to let drivers sleep in a rest area. 

But it’s that next generation — or maybe one more down the road — that will likely see the biggest change — the time when the government decides to take our keys away.

I imagine that I’ll be gone by then — or at the very least old enough that someone should have already taken my keys away, anyway.

People point to the accidents involving self driving cars as evidence that it will never happen, but these early first generations are just the start.

Will they be perfect? No. Nothing ever will be. But they don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be better than humans.  Have you seen us driving? That’s an absurdly low bar to clear.

At some point letting humans drive will be seen as too dangerous. Too many people killed to stupid accidents.

They’ll be right.

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