TO THE EDITOR:
As the talking heads in technology proclaim autonomous vehicles as imminent, I’m reminded of “The Simpsons” monorail episode (“Kiss the good times goodbye,” Nov. 6). No one doubts the capabilities and levels of modern technology, but I just don’t believe that a free society would be ready for the enactment of air traffic control levels of obedience for stop signs, traffic lights and speed limits. Battle lines will be drawn, and the pitchforks will come out if a heavy-handed plan toward forced public compliance is attempted.
Although driverless vehicle technology will perform well in the conscientious hands of its creators, enthusiasts and those with some degree of wealth, most of our driving population is not up to the fastidious task of maintaining and operating a near flawless vehicle or being pushed away from using roads they paid taxes for to make way for autonomous vehicles. The huddled masses in our society will inevitably triumph in a “War of the Worlds” ending.
Our transportation system will eventually morph into a safer, driver-assisted system, but it’s safe to say that not a single human living today will witness Level 5 fully autonomous vehicles successfully moving freely among us. The social order that governs and legislates lacks the imagination, the energy or the disciplined mentality to build, then maintain, such a major improvement for its inhabitants on this scale. Only a totalitarian regime would dare to forcefully make the unpopular decisions of allocating such a disproportionate share of limited resources.
DAVID ROMEU, New York City. The writer has spent 43 years in the aviation industry and maintains automatic flight systems that are using elements similar to those in autonomous vehicles.