Chevrolet FNR Concept: An Autonomous Future Worth Freaking Out About

Written By: EightySix

Chevrolet FNR Concept - a sneak peak at the future of Autonomous Driving

Chevy snapped necks at the Shanghai Auto Show this week with its self-driving FNR Concept. People started bugging out.

The FNR is a dazzling slice of unearthly machinery. The exterior is mostly glass. Four dragonfly doors hinge open to expose the cockpit. The wheels are all tire and rim with no hub, powered by individual electric motors. A magnetic bar holds the bottom of each wheel and spins it with some sort of maglev magic.

The interior is bathed in blue light and covered in display screens. The FNR scans its surroundings with 360 degree radar. Artificial intelligence plots a course. The four mesh seats look both comforting and protective. The front ones swivel around to facilitate conversation or a game of dominoes while the car drives itself.

And that's what got the most attention from the media and the masses. The idea that it would be driving and we would not.


Making Autonomous Driving Legal

You'd think the FNR just ripped up our driver's licenses and threw us in the trunk. Begin to threaten human independence and we instinctively rise up. We're drivers, not passengers. But we will have a long time to get ready for autonomous vehicles.

Consider the towering hurdles self-driving cars need to leap. First, the technology has to be 100% reliable. You trust your phone to communicate and your computer to keep your files, but would you trust either with your life? Minor software glitches will kill people.

Second, people need to accept it. Imagine the first time you're zipping down the freeway and a car passes you with the driver facing backwards, playing cards with his buddies. That reality will take a long time to become comfortable.

Third, it will need to be legal. Convincing the government such vehicles are safe will take years of expensive testing. The insurance costs alone of a self-driving car may be prohibitive.

Photo Credit: Autoblog


Your Assistant, Not Your Boss

You say you'd never relinquish the driving experience to your car, but consider what many of your car trips are like. Stuck in traffic. Monotonous freeway stretches. The same trip over and over. Trapped behind the wheel when you have better things to do.

You'll be happy to let the FNR drive the dull miles. You can keep the windy coastal road. Prep yourself on the way to the meeting. Leave work early and finish that report while commuting.

A self-aware car will also eliminate collisions caused by human error. It can drop us off at the door and valet itself. Plus, think about those late nights when you probably shouldn't be driving anyway.

Not many decades ago, stepping aboard an airplane and expecting it to fly through the air was terrifyingly new. One day, we'll ignore the road and let our car be its own chauffeur.