Driverless Car Journal
The First 100 Days
Hands down the easiest car purchase I ever made. I just Googled around with the idea idly for a few weeks until the search engine narrowed it to two SUVs based on “a holistic assessment of my online activity.” It came down to the Apple iCar and the Waymo 184.108.40.206. The Waymo was an “Amazon’s Choice,” so the only real decision was which shade of gray to choose. I swiped through all the paperwork on my phone, and scanned the QR code at the dealership.
The salesman looked so sad and disrupted that I let him upsell me rubber floor mats.
Waymo Day 3
I didn’t realize how big this thing was till I got it into the garage, barely! Why did I get the SUV? I felt for sure I wanted a hot hatch. Then I remembered my knee arthroscopy and PT appointments were all on my Google calendar.
Waymo Day 9
Today Rachael said the Waymo looks like its being driven by a ghost. She named it Casper.
Casper Day 12
I called the dealer because Casper started up all by himself in the garage. No one was there. Turns out Joey’s friend had hacked it during Latin class – from two miles away! How cool is that?
Casper Day 12
The manual said Casper needs to deep learn for a few weeks. So I’m deep teaching him the route to school. The kids usually bike, but I figure they get plenty of exercise at recess.
Casper Day 18
Casper and I are commuting! He learned the way pretty easily – almost all highway. But he’s not picking up on my special maneuvers. Like you have to sneak up in the slow lane at the interchange and then casually drift over to the left lane. It saves, I think like three minutes every day. That adds up to a whole day of found time every year.
Casper Day 28
Casper has learned a lot but still takes that middle lane. I blocked out two hours Sunday to search the user forums.
Casper Day 35
The commute’s gotten slower because of the 95 on/off ramp thing. All the guys on there swear by this programmer in Tallahassee who sells a box to let you “personalize you car’s driving style,” but you have to know Java and anyway it voids the warranty.
Casper Day 42
The kids like riding Casper alone to school, but Joey was putting on weight and Rachael got all moody. It was a fight, but they’re back on their bikes. Apparently school recess is only seven and a half minutes long.
Casper Day 60
First college visit today: Mt. Holyoke! Traffic on the Mass Pike was bad, which is to say normal. Human drivers are so stupid! They do 80 and then hit the brakes on a curve as if it jump scared them. Was I ever like that?? Casper knows better but what can he do? The Berkshires are pretty.
Casper Day 68
Casper refused to start this morning. Tech support said a Waymo 3.12 AI had predicted a pileup on I‑93 at 7:12 that morning. I think the car saved my life.
Casper Day 70
The graph on my phones shows my lane swimming was adding half a minute. So, I now I get to work thirty seconds earlier, which is awesome.
Casper Day 77
Casper said my free software updates would end on Memorial Day. I didn’t want to get stuck during driving season. The dealer answered the phone this time. He said he could fold the software subscription into my Amazon Prime and I’ll never notice the added expense.
Casper Day 92
Bob from accounting always asked everyone their floors like he’s the elevator captain. Thanks to Casper I’m there right before him. Sometimes I’ll say, “Buckle Up!” when the doors close. He hates that.
Casper Day 100
Bad Monday, so of course Casper gets pulled over, which is to say Casper pulled himself over and waited for the highway patrol. He turned on voice recognition (software update 3.0.11, first transcript free):
“Do you know why I pulled you over?”
“Bit you didn’t! My car– uh, no.”
“Yeah, me neither. [Inaudible] Cruiser lit up a kid on a bike the other day. I’ll let you off with a warning.”
“Wait! How can you let me… sure, thanks a lot.”
I didn’t want to argue. He looked so sad and disrupted in his Smokey the Bear hat.