Fighting for the Right to Drive in an Autonomous Future

There is a growing movement of humans who don't like the idea of being forced to hand the wheel over to robot drivers.

2 minute read

May 1, 2019, 6:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Rommel Canlas / Shutterstock

M.R. O'Connor introduces the world to an event called Radwood, an event that gathers vehicles from the pre-digital-technology years before 2000, and the Human Driving Association, "an organization aiming to protect people’s freedom of movement and right to drive their own cars."

The H.D.A. imagines a future in which, for safety reasons, human driving is made illegal. To prevent this scenario from coming to pass, it advocates laws requiring carmakers to include a steering wheel in every vehicle; it also argues that every future car should be fully drivable under hundred-per-cent human control. For members of the H.D.A., events like Radwood aren’t purely nostalgic. They’re an expression of resistance. They believe that, in a world of level-five autonomous vehicles, driving a 1991 Volvo GL could become a radical political act. It might make you an outlaw.

Along the way, O'Connor attends Radwood, introduces readers to the founder of HDA, and links to some of the reading materials that help build an understanding of the foundational ethos of the HAD crowd. HAD founder Alex Roy wrote a manifesto, for instance, in response to a manifesto written by the CEO of Zipcar.

Among the central tenants of Roy's writing is the idea that the media and the public are too quickly buying the idea that the future will be autonomous, to which we reply: not so fast.

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