It looks like the term “back seat driver” is about to take on a whole new meaning. “I am predicting that, once computers are doing the driving, there will be a lot more sex in cars,” said Barrie Kirk of the Canadian Automated Vehicles Centre of Excellence, as reported by CBC News. Note that Kirk says, “more”, so apparently there’s already in-car business going on and the Canadians, at least, know about it.
Restraining myself from adolescent humor for a change, let’s make the point that even though driverless cars are coming, and coming fast, that doesn’t mean you can sit back, take a nap, read a book, watch a movie, or hop in the backseat with a partner. Even if you’re in the front seat, you still have to be at least aware of your surroundings and what’s happening during the drive so you can take over when needed.
Canadian officials working on rules and regulations for driverless cars are concerned about driver distractions. In notes to Transport Minister Marc Garneau, officials mentioned videos posted online of Tesla drivers brushing their teeth or reading newspapers with the car’s AutoPilot feature engaged.
“The issue of the attentive driver is … problematic,” said one note. “Drivers tend to overestimate the performance of automation and will naturally turn their focus away from the road when they turn on their auto-pilot.”
Tesla’s Autopilot doesn’t make the electric car truly driverless, but helps it stay in the lane, maintain speed, and apply the brakes if necessary. If experience is already showing that people will push the limits with driving assistance technology, the limits will likely be stretched even further with truly driverless systems, where a human driver will only be alerted in case of an emergency or if the car encounters something it has never seen before, like a moose standing in the road.
Canadian regulators and government groups around the world are devising rules to help keep our roads safe when driverless cars are prevalent. Let’s remember safety is their primary focus. You already may have thought of other opportunities that might be possible when you don’t have to attend closely, if at all with self-driving cars. If car sex is on that list, just remember that the authorities are looking for it. And, with the increasing number of cameras in cars and pretty much everywhere we go, they might not be the only ones watching.