Growing Sophistication of Technology in Cars

While I was stuck in traffic the other day, I recalled a Wall Street Journal article about driverless robocars. I enjoyed the article and even Tweeted it. The article referred to predictions that futurist Norman Bel Geddes made back in the 1930s.
Bel Geddes made predictions about architecture and transportation. His work on the Futurama for the 1939 New York World’s Fair contained what were then almost-shocking transportation concepts. His Futurama concepts included extensive car ownership by individuals (amazing in the post-depression years), dramatic interstate highways, and unheard-of radio controlled cars – something like a robocar.
70 years later almost everyone does seem to own a car and we certainly have interstate highways, although I did not like being stuck in traffic on one. So, where is my radio controlled driverless robocar? I think it is coming soon, step-by-step. Manufacturers are touting their advances in adding technology to their cars: Bluetooth cell phone connections are everywhere, GPS systems will show us the most energy efficient route, collision warning systems will make us safer, hands-off parallel parking is now a reality, and wireless internet capabilities will provide for streaming radio, Tweeter, and Facebook. Fully automated robocars can’t be far behind.
When I see a dedicated HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lane, I think some day maybe there will be a dedicated RC (Robo Car) lane. I’ll be able to drive my car onto the RC lane, press a button on the dashboard, and the computer will take over – keeping me on the straight and narrow. That would be great, especially if I want to make a cell phone call, text, surf the net, update Facebook, or Tweet! (It will probably be a toll lane, but it will be worth the toll.)
Which brings me to a comment I saw which said what we really need is smarter drivers not smarter cars. Well, maybe we could use both. As we transition to Bel Geddes’ “Radio Controlled” cars (or even today, actually), we will need to be very careful about distracted driving. Surely, the next steps with technology will include lockouts for texting or other functions while driving – except, of course, on the Robo Car Lane!
Growing technologies in our cars will make life very interesting.