I saw this video on the Wheels blog over at the NYT. I was thrilled and saddened by turns.
First, it's a slick sports car that can drive itself. It's like the future, now. It's a Hollywood fantasy come to life. It's just amazing technology in a lovely wrapper.
It also looks like the beginning of the end of cars as objects of fun and desire. Machine-chauffeured cars may be efficient. They may have an initial "WOW" factor. But the idea of a future filled with automated cars is also a buzz kill.
The man-machine connection is broken in a world like that. Using a car that drives itself would not require skill, daring or judgment. We could no longer claim mastery over our four-wheeled beasts. The passion and excitement that cars generate today would dissipate and, then, disappear.
Suddenly a car would be more like a bus. And I don't know anyone who gets excited about buses.