Waymo Self-Driving Car at Computer Museum

Thursday Doors: Self-Driving Car

More geeky doors for Thursday Doors!

The Computer History Museum near the Googleplex is a good place to take guests who are visiting for graduation (or anything else). I’m not a computer scientist myself, but I’m the wife of one and my dad, a chemist, has always been an early adopter of computer technology. I think we had one of the earliest IBM PC’s in our home back in 1981.

The museum is comprehensive, from Ada Lovelace to Steve Jobs. And I just felt like including this picture of one of the first computer video games, Spacewar,  because it’s cool. Spacewar was developed in 1962 and runs on a machine called a PDP-1.

Spacewar being played on a restored PDP-1 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View
Spacewar being played on a restored PDP-1 at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View

But, let’s leave the desktop computers for a minute, and move on to computers that move! When we moved to Mountain View, it didn’t take long for us to see self-driving cars motoring around the neighborhood. They always have someone in them, though, who kind of looks like he or she is driving, so it’s not as odd of a sight as it might be.

The museum has one of these cars for visitors to sit in, both doors permanently wide open.

Side Door to Waymo Car

In my in-progress SF novel, set in the year 2074, I write about a patchwork self-driving car usage. Some cities and regions have only self-driving cars. Some are reliant on public transit like subways and trams, and have walkable and bikeable downtown areas. And in that world, for cultures who do use cars, I envision an autopilot option that comes with every vehicle, but that its use is voluntary. Some characters in particular don’t like to use that option, and their attitudes towards transportation serve to reveal more about their character.

Myself, I’m a fan of self-driving cars, at least as long as they’re electric and can be built to run on sustainable technologies. I believe they have the potential to increase safety and decrease traffic congestion. And I’ve never been so enamored of driving that not being at the wheel myself seems disappointing. Actually I quite like the idea of still being able to get around independently when I’m, say, 95, and my vision and reflexes aren’t what they used to be.

The author in the back seat of a Waymo car
Take me home, Jeeves!

18 thoughts on “Thursday Doors: Self-Driving Car”

  1. Hi KL – what a great museum to be able to look around – I’d love to visit – especially the Ada Lovelace exhibits, as too Steve Jobs … but fun to read about the driverless car .. and agree re the being 95 and still being able to get around. Thanks – fun post to read – cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. The self-driving cars are not the main focus of the novel at all, but the characters needed to get around somehow. Much of the action of the novel takes place in Western NY state and the Erie Canal is open for business again too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh cool. I love the Erie Canal. A friend and I almost rented one of the restored canal boats that you can rent to travel in. It takes about a week, depending on how often you stop.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting post (but I didn’t expect anything else from you:) )
    Am still a bit ambivalent about self-driving cars – but one good thing maybe that drivers licenses wouldn’t be needed anymore! And yes,be able to go on one’s own when one is 95 years old:):) Also, you changed your blog theme?

    Liked by 1 person

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