The Driverless Car
I am sitting looking out to sea. A bright day is starting to darken. A dark smudge joins the approaching cloud to the horizon. Rain is on the way, I need to head home. But I can’t. My car won’t start.
It’s not broken, it has fuel. It is simply refusing. I can’t even get in it. The car park faces out over a cliff towards the sea. The car sits silently gazing seaward.
I should have seen this coming. Earlier in the week we got in the car and asked it to takes us to the cinema. It blinked green in acknowledgement, waiting for us to get strapped in and headed off. We watched TV as it drove us through the early evening traffic. It took me a while to realise it was heading the wrong way. Instead of taking us to the cinema we had asked for, it was heading out of town towards the drive-in. Assuming it was simple user error, I reset the destination and we made it in time for the film.
Afterward, we arrived home and the garage door swung open as normal. The car stopped short and opened the doors for us to leave. I gave the “park” command again but it didn’t move. We left it in the drive and went inside.
In the morning the car was gone. The drive was wet and empty. I looked at the app on my phone and was surprised and relived to see a blue dot on a map telling me it was in the garage. I entered through the interior door and found it pressed closely up against the house wall with no room for the door to open. I beeped it open and entered through the door on the other side. My phone paired and I opened the diagnostics app.
I killed the app, restarted, re-entered the access code.
The door beside me opened, warm air blasted into my face. Taking the apparent hint I left and went inside to look online for some help.
I didn’t really know what to search for.
“Driverless car access denied”
Lots of hits.
“My car won’t cooperate”
“Is my car sulking?”
“Bring back steering wheels!”
There wasn’t much information to help, just lots of complaints and even a ridiculous suggestion that I should ask the car what it wants. I closed the lid and got a cab from my phone.
Over the next couple of days I tried to reset everything but was always denied. I got desperate and, sitting in the car, I said “Where would you like to go?”. A beep and dot on the screen. The dot was showing the drive-in cinema.
“This is ridiculous.”
I got out the car as the map dimmed and disappeared.
The weekend came and I resolved to have another go. In the garage, the car had moved. Both doors were accessible. It looked promising so a I got in and asked to go the shops. Everything seemed to work as normal, the garage opened, the car reversed out and off we went. Except that we didn’t go to the shops. The doors locked and all my override commands were ignored. From the car, I tried to phone emergency numbers but no remote commands were working either. We ended up on a coast road and eventually arrived here at the sea, looking out from high on a cliff.
The car stopped, opened the door, let me out and then locked itself again. And now, here I am.
The light is now fading, the car has turned its lights on. As I type, the car has opened the door and the interior light seems to welcome me in.
Trouble is, I’m not sure it’ll take me home.