Do You Like to Drive?

By Lloyd Graff

I am all into the concept of self-driving cars. That does not mean I am ready to be a pioneer and buy one of the early iterations like the Tesla Model S with Autopilot, but I am a totally engaged fan of Elon Musk as he gambles on the sexiest new technology in his cars.

The inevitable happened on May 7. Joshua Brown, one of those risk-taking kind of guys who always wants the newest and hottest technology, put his Model S on Autopilot at 74 miles per hour next to a semi with a white trailer on a cloudless Florida day. The car’s navigation system drove the vehicle under the trailer as it turned into his lane on the highway, killing Mr. Brown. The Mobileye navigation system could not distinguish between the bright sky and the white tractor trailer.

Mobileye has now ended its deal with Tesla, but it is still heavily involved with GM, Nissan, BMW and Hyundai in developing autonomous driving applications.

The corporate dance we are now watching with Tesla, Mobileye, the National Transportation Safety Board, insurance companies and the lawyers who fight for and against them is fascinating. Naturally, Tesla and Mobileye are bobbing and weaving, knowing that lawsuits await.

Tesla Model S that resulted in the death of driver Joshua Brown in May 2016. Courtesy of

The Geicos and State Farms have huge money potentially at stake if cars become substantially safer. Car insurance generates $200 billion in premium revenue. If accidents were cut in half by autonomous cars, you can imagine a lot of folks could make the decision to gamble on going naked on fender bender policies. It could ruin the current business model for Jake at State Farm.

Huge money is going into driverless car research. In Palo Alto and Ann Arbor such cars are constantly rolling around local streets. They are so common they don’t even get a second look in Palo Alto. Google and Apple both see the car as a vital piece of their business in the next 10 years.

After the Joshua Brown accident, the doubters have come out to crow about the virtues of humans at the wheel, but 35,000 traffic fatalities a year tells a different story.

I have always been a technology doubter. To this day, I prefer maps to a GPS system. However, I really hope and believe I will eventually buy an autonomous car to replace my 2003 Toyota Avalon. I am holding off buying a new car because the only reason I can see to buy one is to get the driverless features. The primitive parallel parking apps that are being advertised now hold no allure. I actually like to parallel park, though living in the burbs gives me scant opportunity. I do think the lane warning feature has value.

Let the engineers and lawyers do their work. Autonomous cars are coming, and personally, I can’t wait to be driven by one.

Question 1: Do you like to drive?

Question 2: Do you like convertibles?

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21 thoughts on “Do You Like to Drive?

  1. Seth Emerson

    I still like to drive. Although I separate my driving into two parts: Want to drive and have to drive. On a great day, driving my Corvette up into the California coastal hills, It is great. I can shift for myself, pick my driving line and enjoy all the fun Chevy put into the car some 10 years ago. If I have a doctors appointment at 8:30 in the morning, requiring me to slog through the Bay Area commute traffic, I shift to “have to drive” mode and carefully pick my way through the quagmire, usually taking my cladded Avalanche to sit and creep. For a drive down Interstate 5 to the LA area, I prefer the truck to the Corvette, since it is an 8 hour mind numbing exercise. So the obvious answer is both Yes and No. But, as long as the “self driving”, or actually “driver enhancing” features are optional or disableable, I have no problem. I wouldn’t think of driving on the street without ABS or Enhanced Stability Control on. But for the occaisional autocross (off road, in parking lot) ESC goes off, my arms and my right foot are fully engaged. As to the Convertible, my easily removable roof Corvette has the best of both worlds!

  2. Peter

    Although self-driving cars may not have as much impact on the human race as computer devices, they may come close. Many aspects of our lives will be affected.

  3. Robert

    1) Yes, I love driving. 45,000 miles a year.
    2) Just bought my first convertible and it is amazing.

    I too can not wait for the autonomous vehicle. Whenever I am in a traffic jam all I think about is that stupid drivers have caused this to happen.

  4. Donna H

    I love to drive and have purchased a manual transmission after a 25 year absence, thanks to my husband. He refuses to drive it even though he knows how. Love the control behind the wheel and will probably not purchase a autonomous car until my kids take my driving privileges away in old age. Convertibles have never been an allure to me. Wind in my hair is just a distraction.

  5. Dick Crosby

    I was a “roadman’, sales engineer, for Barber-Colman Machine & Cutting Tool Divisions, back in the 70’s, and pretty much always drove their midwest territory’s. I enjoyed it!
    Home made pie at small country restaurants, was a great benefit. Range: 500 miles.
    Now! The older I get, the less I like anything 100 miles and over. I let the wife drive most of the time. “Have to drive”is another matter. No problem 1 to 50.

  6. Jeff

    I used to love driving until 16 years ago when another company purchased the company I worked for. Now I drive 600 miles a week just going to and from work.

  7. Joe

    Lloyd, you forgot some pretty critical parts of the story on the fatal Tesla crash.

    #1- Autopilot is not for use on roads with cross traffic. This road had cross traffic.

    #2- You are supposed to have your hands on the wheel and be paying attention while on Autopilot. Josh Brown was watching a Harry Potter movie on a portable DVD player.

    #3- The semi truck was coming the opposite direction. It turned in front of Brown.

    People who keep using Autopilot incorrectly are eventually going to ruin it for everybody who *is* using it correctly.

    I think Tesla’s biggest mistake is calling it “Autopilot” – since that leads people to believe they don’t have to pay attention. It should be renamed to “Driving Assistant” or something along those lines.

  8. Lloyd Graff

    Hi Joe,

    I read the story that the truck turned into his lane. Brown did take a stupid risk, but this is the kind of variable that drives the autonomous car engineers crazy. This is why Google has been very cautious about rushing to market.

  9. Morrie Goldman

    The autonomous car bandwagon seems to be on autopilot already. It’s pretty amazing how many companies have decided that this will be a gravy train and they want to get on board now. But is all of this expense and potential risk worth rushing into? I really question that.

    I agree that people with physical handicaps may eventually benefit, but even here there are problems. At least in the initial stages, it looks like a licensed driver must be the “copilot” in a self driven car.

    The big claim of course is that this will save lives, but much of the life-saving technology can be applied right now, at much lower expense that creating vehicles and infrastructure friendly to driverless cars. As examples, collision avoidance systems, auto lane controls, self-parking, auto stabilization, night vision and adaptive cruise control are all available now. There are also a variety of techno options to identify whether a driver is too tired to drive or under-the-influence and shut them down. Commercial industry is spending mega bucks and now the Obama administration is proposing to spend nearly $4 billion over the next decade. Those are your tax dollars to be spent on something that very few consumers feel compelled to have.

    While we are being told that the technology will be safe and hack resistant, we’ve heard that one before. Bank accounts, credit cards and medical records are routinely breached. How long will it be before a hacker takes control of your driverless car? There have already been some test examples of this kind of problem on conventional cars. (I’ll bet you the president won’t have a driverless car.) Or for that matter, what happens if the central computer decides to reboot at highway speed? Glitches do occur. Look at all of the problems that have come to light with much simpler automotive technology, such as airbags and ignition switches. And of course, you can forget about what little privacy we currently have while driving.

    Finally, this is just one more example of technology dumbing down humans. Soon, we may not know how walk without hearing a cue from a headset.

  10. Noah Graff

    I don’t like to drive. Partly because it’s boring, partly because I’m afraid of falling asleep. Not good on the back either. Books, Podcasts, Music, baseball, and maybe good company give it value, but no desire to actually DRIVE.

    Now driving a CONVERTIBLE….That’s a different a different story. If I have a convertible, I will actually just go for a drive to go for a drive! And it’s not the same if you’re in the passenger seat.

  11. Doug S

    I have a Mercedes ML550 with the driver assist package. It is not autopilot by any means, but the Distronic Plus adaptive cruse control is a rather nice feature for freeway driving. Even in stop and go traffic you don’t need to do brake or accelerate, just steer and PAY ATTENTION. It does great traveling around other cars but if you’re merrily flying along by yourself at 70 MPH and suddenly come up on stopped traffic it will scare the living crap out of you! I think we are still a few years away from taking a nap while your car drives you to work.

  12. Victor

    Great subject, Lloyd.

    I do like to drive, but then my daily commute is just 4 miles.

    For self-driving cars, I say “bring it on!” – the sooner the better!

    One adjustment society will have to make is that self-driving cars would be safer and significantly reduce the 35,000 driving fatalities annually in the U.S. However, with self-driving cars there would be other risks and technical problems which we would have to get used to. However, those technical problems could likely be corrected (make changes in software/hardware). So, there would be a gradual improvement in safety. Without self-driving cars, our safety improvement rate is probably limited by human behavior.

    I do agree with what Joe said – by calling their system “Autopilot” Tesla has set high expectations. A true autopilot is what we want and I can’t wait!

    One thing I wonder about is how the sensors would function when they get dirty – rain, snow, ice, dust, glare from the sun, etc. I’m an optical engineer so I know these are issues – I haven’t heard any discussion about this, though.

  13. Mark

    “I have always been a technology doubter.” But yet you publish an electronic magazine and use email to get it in front of the public.


  14. mike

    yes, for the most part i enjoy driving, especially if it is a performance car or nice touring sedan.

    not too big on convertibles – don’t even use my sunroof.

    have a motorcycle too – that is fun on occasion when the weather is nice.

    regards driver less – i suppose. we really not need airline pilots much anymore – i wonder when our planes will be operating with no crew – and self service snacks?

  15. ed kays

    My wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee has adaptive cruise control and crash avoidance. They both work quite well especially on long trips. The crash avoidance saved her from an impact with another vehicle when it pulled in front of her by applying the brakes before she could get her foot on the brake pedal. I own several performance cars ( Viper and Porsche) plus a couple of race cars. I very much enjoy driving. There may come a day when I am no longer able to drive, but until then I want to move the gear lever and operate the pedals. Especially the long skinny one.


  16. rick

    I love driving.
    I’m not into the TSA nonsense nowadays.
    I had flown for work for many years – so the actual flying part is fine.
    When I drive I have flexibility and do not need to worry about knives and guns (all legal).
    Convertibles are a novelty, and not my thing – I like comfort when driving.
    For real fun and wind in my face, I take out my motorcycle!
    (and yes – Driven many thousands of miles in the rain)

    As far as TOTALLY autonomous vehicles, they are coming, and quickly.

    My thought is how will Police agencies generate revenue when these vehicles are at the speed limit?

  17. Maury

    I’m in favor of self-driving vehicles, especially if they’ll reduce roadway deaths, injuries and property damage. However, I wonder how all the people who make a living driving will transition to new careers. Also, what will be the social implications of autonomous technologies (layoffs and the increased amount of leisure time)?


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