Re: "unauthorised alterations" eh?
> Who wants to bet that there will be a hack that makes the car think it is driving when in reality you are?
But that would be an "unauthorized modification", rendering your insurance void, and seeing as these cars would be essentially tracking systems on wheels, it will be very hard to hide that you hacked it. In the event of the crash, they may well notice the tacked on steering wheel and pedals :P
> As cars become more automated they will become something else in the same way that horseless carriages became something unlike a carriage without horses. What do you think, Pods, (trans)Porters, Autos? I like the latter as it emphasizes the auto in automobile as re-uses part of an obsolete name as the aforementioned horseless carriages became car.
People would probably not own them anymore. Why would you own a car when you can hail one like any old taxi, especially when you are forbidden from making any modifications to said car?
I imagine integrated with something like Uber, where you click on an app button and a pod arrives to take you to where you want to go, charged by the mile/minute/whatever, and now because you have nothing to do in the pod, you can sit and watch adverts in-between some sort of entertainment. Of course to prevent vandalism or illegal activities, all pods will have internal cameras and microphones, for your protection of course (like you see on buses nowadays).
Because it doesn't make sense to own them anymore, most of these things will probably be standardised, maybe have some sort of advertising on the outside so they are like mobile billboards. Essentially it would be the reduction of the car to the most utilitarian concept, a vehicle for getting from A to B. What it looks like, how it goes, etc.. becomes moot.
> At some point obtaining a drivers license will be a preserve of the military, emergency services or the very rich.
That reminds me of an Anime: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89X-Driver
The premise of still requiring people who can drive non autonomous cars is not unsound (just like we still need people who can shoe and ride horses), even if the storyline is a bit far fetched. Especially the military would not allow something so insecure and easily disabled to be used in wartime, if the enemy can just wipe out all your vehicles in one swoop with a hack/virus/emp.
And cars were originally the preserve of the very rich, and it seems they try very hard to make it so again. The sudden liberty of the serfs to do what they want, move around how they like without higher oversight, and generally be free seems to have been just an aberration in social structure, most likely due to the Industrial (and cheap energy) revolution.
It seems we are going back to the days when most people don't wander too far from their home village (except now it is more a really dense urban area), leaving most of the world as a playground for the very rich.