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GM thanks taxpayers for bailout by introducing car with no steering wheel so they can die in it

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By —— Bio and Archives January 12, 2018

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GM thanks taxpayers for bailout by introducing car with no steering wheel so they can die in it
Trends come and trends go. People jump on completely insane ideas because everyone else is jumping on them. I get it. It’s been that way since the dawn of time. Pet rocks. Lava lamps. Halter tops. Pink Floyd. All kinds of things become things because - for whatever reason - a few people decide to ride them and everyone else follows, until it’s time to jump off and jump on something else.

(And sometimes we jump off things we should stay on forever, like Sonny Crockett’s wardrobe, but I digress.)

For the most part I attribute it to a uniquely human aversion to engage in critical thinking. “This is idiotic but everyone else is an idiot too so who cares?” It’s easier than thinking, and it earns you less resistance, so what the hell?

But sometimes the trends are confounding, if only because you’d think that before they go too far, people whose job it is to ask basic questions would ask those questions rather than spend hundreds of millions of dollars turning bad ideas into bad realities.

Take, for instance, driverless cars. If there’s a dumber idea currently circulating on this great terrestrial coil - with all due respect to “Oprah 2020” - I can’t think what it is. The confidence techno-geeks want to place in technology to the exclusion of basic human observation and common sense boggles the mind. We’ve already seen one poor schlep get killed because a driverless car thought the side of a truck was the sky, but that’s no reason not to press forward. Progress will not be denied, even if it’s progress in the service of insanity.

And historically there are few companies in America more insane than General Motors, so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that they think it’s progress to give us a car . . . without a freaking steering wheel:

Meet the Cruise AV Self-Driving Car

GM actually wants to put this death trap into production by 2019. And how exactly will the car with no steering wheel get you where you need to go without the coroner having to pick you up at some point and finish the trip?

Oh, they’ve thought of that:

Based on the Chevy Bolt, the electric Cruise AV will initially be employed in a ride-hailing capacity and operate within a pre-determined, well-mapped ‘geo-fenced’ area, so it won’t be entirely off the leash

Versions of the car with driver controls are currently being tested in San Francisco and Phoenix. They feature a large array of sensors on the roof that will be engineered to pass crash tests with the rest of the vehicle.

In a report about the project, GM details how the cars will be summoned by an app that automatically sets their climate controls and audio systems to the user’s preferences. Along with a display on the center stack, there are infotainment screens in the headrests of the front seats for rear passengers to use.

Riders will be able to communicate with a call center with issues, and there are buttons that will stop the vehicle and allow them to exit in the event of an emergency.


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We should have let this behemoth die a merciful death, and sold off its useful assets to people who aren’t morons

You know it’s funny, but conventional cars already have ways for you to stop the car in case of an emergency. They’re called the brake pedal, the gear shift and the damn door. The so-called “driverless car” is the biggest solution-looking-for-a-problem nonsense I’ve ever seen. People can drive cars. People will always be able to drive cars. The ride-hailing industry seems to think it can make more money if it can somehow take drivers out of the equation, and it seems to think there are lots of people out there who are willing to be driven by no one to their destinations.

The fact of the matter is that actual roads are designed to be traveled by people with eyes, ears, brains and human instincts, not by “a large array of sensors.”

I know there are people who think this is part of a run-up to an attempt by the federal government to ban driving, because driving is what gives you freedom and the government hates freedom. You may soon hear from someone who is a little further along in that thinking than I am. What I think is that the “driverless car” demonstrates the astonishing capacity of humans with actual brains to use those brains in the service of monumentally stupid ideas, simply because the trends of the moment make it seem edgy and cool to do so.

If this is the kind of nonsense we saved GM for, then I’m even more convinced than I was back in 2008 that we should have let this behemoth die a merciful death, and sold off its useful assets to people who aren’t morons.

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