Drivers Prohibited from Driving “By Hand” in Driverless Cars?

Regarding Elon Musk’s interesting comments about the possible outlawing of driving by hand someday, as recently reported in the Verge:
I offer this humble prediction from Young Moon.

The year, 2027, Beijing:

Our car was a brand new Hundred Clicker, and it really could go a full hundred kilometers without a recharge. The car breathed, like people. It ran on compressed air and actually filtered the smog as it sucked air into the piston chamber, and then blew it out. With every breath in and out, the air tank would re-pressurize, but just a bit less than before, until the pressure ran down completely and the air tank had to be pumped up again. You could pump it by hand with a bicycle pump in an emergency, and it would take you a few kilometers, but you needed a real compressor to charge it back to full.

Mother and I were very proud of it but Father thought it was too small for us. He thought anything smaller than a house wasn’t safe on Chinese roads, but the entire length of the Eighth Outer Ring Road was automatic by law, so there was hardly ever an accident. And deaths were way down since that drunk-driving accident on Ring Road Four was caught by surveillance cameras.

The full decapitation was shown without edits all across the Record. There should have been a warning for younger people, but I think secretly they really wanted everyone to watch, especially children. It scared me when I watched it, and I was nearly twelve by then.

Highway accident deaths went down almost immediately, and with only autocars allowed in City Centre, there was much less congestion in Beijing than ever before. Still, the air in town was thick and brown and often smelled like chemicals.

[And this bit takes place a few years later, in the U.S.:]

I looked into the other cars as we passed them, one by one. Families, couples, people alone. I couldn’t believe a major artery like this still wasn’t a dedicated autoroute. America was the last place on Earth where driving by hand was romanticized into an obsession. It was a dangerous way to think.

But what did it matter now?

Cars from every exit piled onto the highway behind and beside us, joining the evacuation headed out of the city. About forty minutes out, the highway narrowed and traffic began to slow and then start, and stop again. We crested a hill and saw the brake lights of vehicles spread before us for a kilometer at least.


Illustration of a mythical dragon


About HSStOurs

H. S. St. Ours is the author of the Water Worlds young adult science fiction, apocapunk adventure series. He lives and writes in Maryland. "Water Worlds is a saga of the terraforming of the planets of the inner solar system, as seen through the eyes of generations of young women. I wrote this series especially for young women, because I believe there is a paucity of good SF for them in particular."
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