Labor Day weekend, 2040.
With millions of Americans again in mass motion it’s a good time to recall those quaint times when we thought we needed human beings to steer us safely to our destinations.
Yes, no vehicle could move without a human in charge of it. Just think about that. Even to get out of the driveway a car had to have someone at the wheel.
That meant that the car was controlled by people of any age, from 16 to 90! Imagine your grandfather, myopic and rheumatic, actually taking your kids on the road. How could that possibly happen?
Don’t even think about that daughter checking her makeup in the rear view mirror every five seconds.
All that empty air space above your street, too. There was not a single Uber Lifter to be seen—no eVTOL taxi to get you to the airport in five minutes, buzzing happily aloft leaving no emissions at 200 mph as the freeway below is backed up for miles with driverless cars.
Levitation! It’s so easy. How did they do without it?
And, get this. When they got to the airport the airplanes actually had two guys sitting in a cockpit up front. Two guys! (Maybe a woman or two among them.) As though the airplane couldn’t fly itself.
It seems so madly illogical to us now that the case for pilotless airplanes had to wait so long to be accepted.
In fact, a careful scrutiny of the past shows that the turning point in that argument came, obscurely, in April, 2018.
In Washington, D.C. the House of Representatives was voting on the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018—basically to fund the agency. At the last minute, and with hardly anyone noticing, a provision was slipped into the Act to prepare the ground for having only one pilot in the cockpit of cargo-only flights.
Naturally, the first people to protest the move were the airline pilots—who screamed “this dangerous provision must be removed.”