The Tesla Model S is faster than an airplane and can apparently steer itself without the help from the human at the wheel. But that doesn’t mean the autopilot feature isn’t going to scare the absolute hell out of someone trying it for the very first time.
Example: This grandma who lost her mind when the feature was switched on mid-drive.
Oh dear Jesus, indeed.
Her reaction actually reminds me of the time when, as a 15-year-old with a learner’s permit, I drove for the first time down a hilly, narrow road near the high school. As the cars on the other side of the lane appeared, speeding the opposite way, it was hard to bottle the emotions that this woman has no problem expressing to her passenger.
Eventually, Bill—equally amused by her reactions and perturbed by her inconsolability—tells her to relax and to hit the brakes to turn off the autopilot, so she can drive like a normal, less hysterical person.
How might grandma have seen the autopilot feature if she’d managed to calm down? Here’s what the Washington Post had to say about what it’s like to ride in a car driven by a computer:
After several days of driving (if that’s the right word) Tesla’s autopilot in a range of conditions, including snow (where it struggled), it is clear both how stunningly advanced the technology already is and how much work remains.
Using it makes you both giddy and alarmed in one shot — because crashing software is very different from software crashing a car.
But when it works, it seems like a miracle.
Regardless, this isn’t going to be a normal feature for at least the next several years. Unlike grandma, though, some seem fully ready to embrace the technology.
And the concept is here to stay: President Obama recently called for $4 billion of new spending on self-driving car technology. Presumably, a billion dollars of that investment will go toward soothing freaked-out old people.