GEORGE NEWS - Imagine this: You get into your vehicle in the morning and sit back with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, while your car drives you to work.
It might sound far-fetched, but autonomous cars are closer to becoming part of South Africans' everyday lives than most of us believe.
According to Christophe Lepoivre, vice-president of Africa sales at an international digital security company, connected cars are rapidly becoming not just a possibility, but a reality. "Just last year, Elon Musk announced that Tesla cars will soon be available in South Africa.
Recent developments at Tesla include the announcement of 'full' autopilot, which gives any such equipped car the ability to drive entirely on its own. Reminiscent, some might say, of the 1980s TV show Knight Rider and his car Kitt."
The local Tesla launch has however since been delayed, according to a tweet from Musk in August. "Import duties are extremely high, even for electric vehicles."
The question is why we would need or even want vehicles such as this?
South Africa's alarming road statistics immediately spring to mind. A self-driving car eliminates the human factor in driving. Factors such as inebriation, speeding and inexperience won't affect road behaviour anymore, which should make our roads much safer.
The battle to find a parking spot could also be something of the past, with a self-driving car acting as a valet dropping passengers off, parking far away and coming back only when needed.
But all is not moonshine and roses and a number of self-drive fatalities have occurred internationally, prompting investigations and possible claims. United States law stipulates that a back-up driver must be in a moving car at the wheel at all times to take immediate control of the wheel if need be.
Another drawback is the cost. Many South Africans can't even afford a basic car. To experience the possible benefits of autonomous cars, they have to be purchased first and they have to become commonplace on our roads.
Local infrastructure and traffic legislation will also need significant improvements and amendments. In answer to a question put to him in this regard, the minister of transport Blade Nzimande said that "government has plans to introduce them as soon as the necessary legislative framework had been created."
The third prerequisite is undoubtedly reliable connectivity. Without good mobile networks the connected car simply cannot exist.
The jury is still out on whether this will make driving safer or whether an increased reliance on artificial intelligence will simply make us more dependent and lackadaisical.
One thing is certain: technology is making our lives easier in ever-increasing ways, but boy, I sure will miss the thrill of driving.
'We bring you the latest George, Garden Route news'