Writing the following post was prompted by a tweet I made earlier expressing my hope that driverless cars will soon become a reality. Having been knocked off my bike this week, there is a big part of me which thinks that, on the road, being around computers will ultimately be a hell of a lot safer than you lot! So roll on the Rise Of The Machines (at least at the expense of people-driven cars).
The pod arrived promptly at 6.55am, just as it does every other week day. It waited by the kerb, the rim lights gleaming in the pre-dawn light, emphasising the vehicles aerodynamic profile. I left the house, coffee in hand, and walked across our empty drive – we’re having it ripped up next week and replaced with a flowerbed.
The pod sensed my approach and opened the wing door. I always feel a bit like Michael Knight then, except longer in the tooth. Much longer in the tooth. I climbed into the single seat, my back to the direction of travel and stretched out my legs. Addison, the pod’s persona, knew from my profile settings not to greet me – I never did get past Arnie’s encounter with Johnny Cab in Total Recall, even though the film is 55 years old now. Thinking about it, I felt the same about Siri and Cortana and I’m still self conscious around Pip, the house persona. The door closed to the barely audible purr of hidden motors while I rummaged around in my satchel for the paperback novel I’m reading. Yes, I know it’s old fashioned, but I’m of the last generations before the Digital Natives and I still like the feel of a good book when I’m reading. Obviously I’ve got a pad for everything else though.
The fuel cell pushed the pod forward in near silence. It was almost 7am and I asked Addison to put on Today. The headlines reported more God-bothering fundamentalists still trying to drag the world back to the dark ages. I asked Addison to turn it off until Thought for the Day; I must admit I do find I’m enjoying the show’s philosophy segment more in my old age.
The pod joined the Great North Road, heading south to London. I only noticed because of the slight pressure of force as the pod accelerated from the country lanes to 150kmph. Signals between it and other pods on the already busy road allowed us to join seamlessly with the flow of traffic.
A couple of neighbouring vehicles pinged me to see if I wanted to join their game. I looked out of the window at one that had pinged. A youngish lad in his thirties smiled back, but the immersive combat game flashing in the background didn’t appeal and besides I felt he was taking the piss. I declined and told Addison to be in privacy mode; I wish I could set it as a permanent mode and even then I still can’t turn off the social media stream.
In fifty minutes I arrived, predictably on time, at the Kings Cross Travel Hub. The old trains which I used to travel here on were 10 minutes quicker, but then again, with the pod, I no longer have to get to the station, park and hang around on a platform. Overall my journey is quicker. The pod deposited me by the Boris bike rank – it’s amazing that the name has stuck, despite him being the worst PM in living memory.
Next year I’ll be 70. I’ll finally be able to retire and get my state pension, but I think I’ll miss the peaceful solitude of my pod commute. At least we gave up trying to junk the NHS in the twenties, so I’ve still got my health and my bike will keep me out of my wife’s hair.