Driverless cars will be smiles better

If you believe the hype (which, being experienced Downtime readers, we realise you won’t), then you will know that we will all be getting around in driverless cars by about, ooh, Wednesday next week.

Meanwhile, as manufacturers test their driverless dream machines, they are finding one or two minor flaws – you know the sort of thing, like accidentally killing people.

Elsewhere, technology company Semcon ran a test to see how pedestrians react to self-driving cars, and filmed the result with hidden cameras. The tests found that when crossing a road, 80% of people try to make eye contact with the driver of an approaching car – so what do you do when there’s no driver?

Simples. You create a smiling car – see the video below.

Downtime sees huge potential for a wave of automotive innovation inspired by this example.

The swearing car, that mouths obscenities whenever a cyclist cuts them up? The road rage car, where a robot jumps out of what was once the driver’s door to remonstrate with another – probably smaller – robot about why it pulled out of that side road without indicating?

What about the waving car, where a frantic computer-generated hand points repeatedly towards the inside lane of a motorway in an effort to tell the slower car in the middle lane to move over?

Or if those road-crossing pedestrians are looking for a friendly smile to let them know it’s OK to walk, there’s bound to be the frowning car that lets them know not to even think about stepping into the road until it’s gone past.

If you really want to imagine the hell of streets full of driverless cars, just go back and watch Cars – the Pixar cartoon, which is now revealed to be a dystopian vision of the future where your vehicles not only smile, but banter with each other and engage in meaningless sentimentality that will leave you pining for the days when you still had a steering wheel of your own and an accelerator pedal to get you away from all this as fast (within the speed limit) as you can.