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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Google cars? Motorcyclists and dogs won't mind

"Drivers" can nap but dogs will still enjoy the ride.
Someday soon your car will drive itself. You'll be just a passenger, if you even go along at all. Plenty of people can't wait, including multi-taskers like my wife, people with long, boring commutes and senior citizens uncomfortable behind the wheel.

Many others will soon see the advantage of being able to eat their drive-through food with both hands while being driven to their destination. The drive itself won't matter.

As I see it, the last two groups enjoying moving down the road for its own sake will be motorcyclists — and dogs.

The New Yorker magazine recently explored Google's drive to make the nut behind the wheel superfluous.

According to the October, 2013 issue, the Google car has driven half a million miles without causing an accident. The magazine says that is "about twice as far as the average American driver goes without crashing."

That's with human back-up. Left to its own skill set, the Google car "could go only about 50,000 miles on freeways without a major mistake." Still fantastic, although not yet good enough for the lawyers.

So it's coming. But I don't care. Here's how I figure it.

Google won't bother automating motorcycles. Oh, sure, Google could work out how to make a two-wheeler balance itself, but why? It's a niche market. Let the motorcyclists steer for themselves. They're unlikely to hurt anyone but themselves anyway.

As for dogs, my daughter Erin noted that New Yorker's cover shows a dog riding in a car — alone.

"They'll love it. You can send them for a drive anytime, and they can stick their heads out the window."

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