The Trip

Previously: A New Day

The car’s external sensors glow a warm green as the Heads Up Display shows the path behind. In reality, there’s no reason to look, as the car knows the best way out of the driveway and will find it’s way to work via the most efficient route, today. As the vehicle leaves the driveway, the garage door closes, the house locks tight and the external house cameras come alive.

I touch the ‘Work’ icon on my ‘Faves’ list on the dashboard and the rest is automatic.

An advertisement appears on the outside of my vehicle as the OLED screen comes to life. That will earn me extra fuel credits, so that I can swap out fuel cells more frequently.

I use this time to converse with family via the ViewBar. As vehicles are so automated, I can talk on the video phone while driving and even flip the ViewBar up to see the other party on the Heads Up Display.

The trip to work involves a number of sets of traffic lights, a tollway and a short distance from the off ramp to the office. The heads up display shows an icon to let us know we have crossed a traffic monitor point. These points are set at intersections and read the sensors built into the car. Yes, Big Brother has arrived, they know who is driving, what alcohol level I have and whether my car is registered and has insurance paid up. We rarely see vehicles that are automatically disabled any more, but of course there is the odd person that speeds but their cars are automatically disabled after ten seconds.  The fleeing criminals can’t get past the system either. Apart from the fact that police have all got remote ignition disabling devices, the roads themselves will simply stop illegal usage.

Few cars run on petroleum based products now, changeover hydrogen cells are readily available to boost the range of the electric powered cars. The taxes on petroleum products has made both the cars and the fuel quite out of the question for most people.

As steering, braking, acceleration and parking have all been taken over by the onboard computers, the driver rarely has to intervene unless asked to by the car.  Voice controls normally work fine, but there is still a brake pedal and steering wheel that can override the computer. Acceleration has been taken away from the driver completely. Based on the old Cruise Control concept of ‘Resume’, the car accelerates at the optimal speed and maintains a safe distance between other traffic, courtesy of the cameras and proximity sensors.

As the car takes the on ramp to the Tollway, another tiny icon shows on the heads up display, a charge has appeared and will continue to increase as I travel.

Imperceptibly, the suspension hardens slightly and the tyre pressure is increased to provide a faster and more fuel efficient ride.

The charges for these cars are different today than they were. All cars are priced on a standardized rate. There is no upfront fee for the vehicle, insurance or registration, or even drivers licence. A simple ID check solves all of that. You are required to keep a vehicle for a minimum of 2 years, but you must change over after 5 years. There are no maintenance charges like Servicing, Tyres or Batteries. These items are all built in to the ‘per kilometer fee’ for the particular vehicle you have chosen and the funds are deducted directly from your designated account per day.

Simply put, the more you drive the vehicle, the more it costs, but if you don’t drive often, you will pay almost nothing to own a car. Any parking, toll or traffic fines are simply charged to that account and your ‘Points’ are able to be increased or decreased, depending on your driving quality. As your driving quality increases, your licence automatically extends to allow you to park in better positions and to receive priority in vehicle servicing. All repairs are taken care of free , because all vehicles are driven according to manufacturers specifications and government requirements. All driving costs are known by the manufacturers upfront.

Vehicle manufacturing costs are much lower, because lighter weight materials are being used as the heavy engines of yesterday don’t have to be hauled around. Small electric motors with solar boosters and fuels cells do the job adequately and, as all vehicles are computer equipped and aware of each other, there simply isn’t the need for the extraordinary protective capsules that were present in the last generation of gasoline powered cars.

We slip quietly from the tollway via the off ramp, another icon shows the toll paid as the suspension resets itself for the minor road we are taking. The car pulls into my designated car space and shows a reminder of those things that are in the car that I need to take into my workplace.

As the door pops open, the vehicle begins its security shutdown procedure and sits quietly absorbing solar rays while I’m at work.

Next : At work

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