QOTD: Should The Waymo Dude Have a Driver's License?

qotd should the waymo dude have a drivers license

Anybody who has ever had me as a trackday instructor has heard me repeat it over and over again: driving a car quickly and well is a teachable skill. I can take pretty much any healthy, competent adult and get them to within five or six seconds a lap of what Fernando Alonso could do in, say, a Civic Si. That’s why I fell in love with racing cars; after 20 years of competing in various cycling disciplines and being continually punished for everything from my torso length (too much) to my number of functioning anterior cruciate ligaments (one less than optimal) I was all like, “Wait, you mean that all I have to do is move my hands slowly and not be a wuss about corner entry speed?”

True, at the very upper echelons of the sport there are some non-negotiable requirements for physical size, strength, and endurance. In general, however, driving is pretty easy. My eight-year-old son can flick his kart into a nice drift at 45 miles per hour and then thread through a space that is just inches wider than his vehicle. He thinks hitting a baseball is harder than driving a go-kart, and I agree. His stepmother went from not knowing what a Miata was to winning a race in one across the space of 18 months. You get the idea.

Yet there is a species of creature that is generally unable to match my eight-year-old son or 30-something wife for either courage or competence, and that species is called the “modern millennial male.” In the case of Vahid Kazemi, this species is able to get a doctorate in “computer vision learning” but he can’t operate a RAV4 or whatever without pissing himself.

How do you solve a problem like Vahid?

You can read Alex Roy’s takedown of this dude at The Drive, but Alex focuses on Vahid’s inability to understand the subtle distinctions between levels of autonomous driving. I’d like to take a different, and possibly more controversial, tack.

What I want to suggest here is that ol’ Vahid is exactly what you get when you shelter young men and prevent them from ever “seeing the elephant” in the entire course of their pampered little lives. The same might be true for young ladies, but I don’t know because I’m not a young lady and I don’t have any daughters. That’s beyond my area of expertise. But what I can tell you is that if you get into your 20s without being to handle a plain-Jane passenger car in ordinary traffic, and you are not a native New Yorker, I’m going to make a few assumptions about what kind of man you are.

In my opinion, a man who is old enough to get his PhD should be able to drive a car, ride a motorcycle, understand most basic types of machinery, operate a firearm, calculate a tip, handle a confrontation with another man whether through diplomacy or force as required, and take a woman on a date (if that’s his bag, baby) without finishing the night either alone or under investigation for harassment. I’m not saying that you have to engage in the sort of nature-Zoolander cosplay that made former Jalopnik writer Wes Siler a laughingstock. It’s THE CURRENT YEAR and I doubt that any of us will be forced to subsistence hunt in the near future. But young men should be encouraged to learn and develop the skills they will need to be something other than helpless outside of Park Slope or Mountain View.

Were I Vahid’s father, I’d slap him across the face for deciding that the vast majority of humanity isn’t fit to drive a car just because he can’t handle the task. That way lies the dictatorship of the proletariat. And then I’d slap myself across the face for raising someone like that, because the faults of a son have to be traced to a father. End of rant. And it’s not helpful because I’m not Vahid’s father and I don’t know who Vahid’s father is. So, I repeat, and I implore you, dear reader:

How do you solve a problem like Vahid?

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2 of 117 comments
  • Rpn453 Rpn453 on Dec 09, 2017

    All the guy needed to do to make his tweet inoffensive to competent drivers who want to maintain the freedom to pilot themselves in the future would be to change his last line to "Some humans aren't designed to drive cars!" That bit of self-deprecation would have been enough to believe that he was joking, or at least that he recognizes his relative incompetence is not universal.

  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on May 30, 2018

    This very much reminds me about the LJ entry of Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent, where he complained about UI of cars. He really wanted an indicator that showed the steering angle.

  • Arthur Dailey In the current market many are willing to pay 'extra' to get a vehicle that may be 'in stock'/on the lot. An acquaintance recently had his nearly new vehicle stolen. His choices were rather limited a) Put a deposit down on a new vehicle and wait 4 to 6 months for it to be delivered. And his insurance company was only willing to pay for a rental for 1 month and at far less than current rental costs. b) Purchase a used vehicle, which currently are selling for inflated prices, meaning that for the same vehicle as the stolen one he would need to pay slightly more than what he paid for his 'new' one. c) Take whatever was available in-stock. And pay MSRP, plus freight, etc and whatever dealer add-ons were required/demanded.
  • SCE to AUX I like it, but I don't know how people actually use dune buggies. Do you tow them to the dunes, then drive around? Or do you live close enough that the law winks as you scoot 10 miles on public roads to the beach?As for fast charging - I doubt that's necessary. I can't imagine bouncing around for hours on end, and then wanting a refill to keep doing that for a few more hours in the same day. Do people really run these all day?A Level 2 charger could probably refill the 40 kWh version in 6 hours if it was 80% empty.
  • Lou_BC This is a good application of EV tec. A play toy where range isn't an issue.
  • Roadscholar I just bought a Veloster N Auto for $500 under MSRP
  • JMII In 5 years these cars will be worth about the same as normal (non-Proto Spec) version of the car. My limited edition C7 (#380 out of 500) is worth maybe about $2k more then a similar spec C7 and this was a vehicle with a $75k price tag when new. The problem with these launch editions is they rarely contain anything more then different paint, interior trim, some bundled options and a few badges. Thus there are that "special" other then being new and limited, two things that will fade into history very quickly. As they saying goes a fool and his money are soon parted.