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In praise of - self-driving cars.

ON A day-to-day basis, driving is the most dangerous thing we do.

Often, I wish I could give it up. But, marginally, it's worth it to get from A to B without the company of smelly nutters, ie one's fellow man.

However, nutters inhabit other vehicles. The rude, stupid and aggressive are handed driving licences willy and, in some cases, nilly. There's no psychological profiling or anything. Recalling frequent trips from Embra to Aberdeen, I reckon there wasn't one occasion when I didn't experienced dangerous or rude driving.

Until such times as licences are afforded only to those who (a) can name the Prime Minister, (b) are able to explain the space-time continuum as it affects the car in front's rear bumper, and are in full possession of a beard, then I guess we have to live with it. However, another solution approaches on the slip road: self-driving cars. Recently, Toyota demonstrated a Lexus fitted with "Intelligent Transport Systems", which allow the car to take over when the human driver is behaving like a nutter.

Thus, all on its own, it stops at traffic signals, and detects pedestrians and other obstacles, presumably including aggressive cyclists, the biggest danger on the roads today.

Toyota says it's leading us into "a new automated era", which probably leaves most of us ambivalent. As matters stand, we pooh-pooh cars with automatic gears, preferring to exercise choice and timing ourselves. But, on balance, I'd be tempted by safer cars and, in my ideal free society, my choices would be compulsory for everybody. Certainly, I wouldn't say no to a self-parking car, such as Audi is pioneering.

Although a polite and responsible driver, I have poor spatial skills and, in general, am happy to advise boffins working on automated cars as follows: get on with it.

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