EVs & Mobility

This article was published on April 7, 2022

A look at the technical and psychological evolution of driving

A risk, a thrill, and an essential step in the evolution of transport


A look at the technical and psychological evolution of driving
Negai
Story by

Negai

I bet many analysts have discussed this topic repeatedly, but a couple of research papers later, I realized how much of it remains uncovered by the average Joe. I began my research with the technical understanding of regulations, practices, and limitations; and ended the study with the psychological and behavioral effects of driving on a human being.

I have enjoyed the latter more, and that is why I took down my technical articles realizing the archaic concepts, but instead want to approach this from the young novel view, having driven in all the styles I’m about to mention and how I enjoy each one of them in their unique flavor.

Types of drivers

  • Dad’s car (Offensive (Reckless) Driving)
  • The Grandma (Defensive Driving)
  • The Doctor (Professional Driving / Turn of that ABS).
  • The Tesla FSD drivers (Assisted Driving)
  • I’m not driving! (Autonomous Driving)

Dad’s car

learning driving
Beginner driving is a wild, wonderful world. Credit: Unplash

Insurance is high on young drivers for a reason, and that’s because statistically, in the first years of owning a car, a person would explore the limitations of what’s possible and occasionally show off to friends, I’m looking at those college kids who drive but still not own their car, so they are less concerned about any damage done to it.

Technical:

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Burn out doughnuts, race the Red light, show it off on those car meets. It is all fun and games until the cops get you or you make your first accident, and that’s how you graduate to the next level (someone could make a game out of this article, it would turn hilarious!).

Psychology:

There is no more incredible thrill for a human to have control over a superior animal, or in this case, a machine capable of enhancing one’s mobility, musical experience, and sex appeal. From pretending you “are” the car to being in a Gundam battle suit. the one thing I will miss about driving once autonomy becomes the norm is the ability to control a superior machine and do shenanigans with it. I consider it the greatest entertainment humans have had in the past 200 years.

The Grandma

Once you get your first accident or pay a couple of tickets, you realize the consequences of breaking the law; there will be rage, and there will be rebellion, but as your life fills with work and daily activities, driving becomes a second nature akin to walking.

Technical:

Defensive driving is the first thing you take in driving school. It teaches you to predict the faults in other drivers and master predictable safety such as using signals and slowing down for the Yellow light instead of zooming through the Red one. It takes two idiots in cars to make an accident, so long one person exercises caution, the chances of an accident are surprisingly near zero.

Psychology:

It’s called the “Grandma” driving for a reason. Older people enjoy this chill style more than young hot heads seeking an adrenaline boost out of a two-ton death machine, there is a certain Lo-Fi vibe to defensive driving, and it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

Those who enjoy driving would commonly pick up driving jobs since it pays so well.

The Doctor

Some people really like to get up close snd personal with their car through customization and the idea of the vehicle as part of their identity. Credit: @santi4dmg

Have you played Gran Turismo or ever been on the race track tackling complex turns without ABS or any safety systems?

Technical:

Max out the torque, turn off the safety, become one with the machine. It is no longer about speed or competition. It is about being one with the car.

Technical drivers from hypermiling to professional racing are few as they take it upon themselves to maintain and tweak the vehicle, and some even build them.

Psychology:

No sane person would dedicate the time and effort to hone the skills of professional driving and understanding of vehicle engineering except that who appreciates the car differently than those who “Use” the vehicle for transportation or sex appeal. A particular group of individuals have embraced the vehicle as a philosophy or religion and, on some occasions, go as far to consider them children.

The Tesla FSD drivers

FSD Tesla beta testing
Tesla FSD Beta 10.9 Visualisation. Credit: Tesla

Being a tester of the novel semi-autonomous Full-Self-Driving fleet, I have pretty much adapted to the R2D2 companion to whom I pass control over back and forth.

Technical:

Every technology has a hybrid state between the old and the new, and those are my favorites because I feel I get to contribute to the next stage.

Early adopters of technology constantly install the “Beta” state of operating systems on their computers and smartphones; they always test the experimental browsers before they become mainstream.

Some would even risk their lives for the future of technology advancement and volunteer for a Nuralink implant, nanotechnology treatments, or Tesla’s autonomous driving.

Psychology:

If you’re a fan of high-speed driving, consider driving with a robot a different type of high, the one a SciFi-minded dreamer would get, a fresh breeze of hope that humanity is heading towards the kind of progress Issac Asimov and Strugatski brothers envisioned. I have to admit it is the most expensive hobby, and I live for this s**t!

I’m not driving!

a look at self-driving
Meet the Cruise Origin. No steering wheel, mirrors, pedals. Credit: Cruise

Split between a version where you can take over automation and automation where you have no control. The driver/rider often pleads, “I’m not driving!” when confronted with an accident caused by the machine. The driver is still the operator in those scenarios and carries full responsibility. If you cannot operate an autonomous vehicle, please do not drive one.

Technical:

Many believe the benefits outweigh the risks as machines can be extraordinarily predictable and accurate. One could question driving is one of those skills that we should have never handed down to humans given the now possible alternative.

It would be like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just automatically come to the floor that you’re at… the car is going to be just like that. — Elon Musk. Credit: The Verge 

Psychology:

Humans have peaked the best driving performance they can, from the most developed cities such as Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Manhatten, the crisis of driving and road-rage is not going away, unless you’re a German: Germans would commit Hara-Kiri if they miss a stop sign; those are a small group of drivers that I’m excluding.

The only path forward is if all drivers magically obey the speed limit, stop considering travel-time a variable figure, and seize the senseless honking or road rage.

Elon optimistically predicts this will be here by the end of 2022. I believe it is a long time until the driver role is eliminated (SAE Level 5), but complete autonomy where most rides will require zero action from the driver is right a few months away (SAE Level 4). but it will not be mainstream considering the prohibitive cost and human’s selfish obsession with letting go of controlling deadly mechas to perform superhuman tasks.

This article by Negai was originally published on Medium on March 28, 2022, and is republished here with the permission of the author. You can read the original article here.

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