By Jason B. Hunt, guest contributor
A little while back, it was written that self-driving cars will need people, too. Studies have indicated that people are generally interested in if not excited by the chance to relax fully when riding in the self-driving cars of the near future. People want to read, nap, watch TV and movies, and potentially even consume alcohol while the automated car does all the work. Yet it was suggested that the desire for this sort of ride was likely somewhat ambitious. The logic was that even if an automated vehicle can handle itself 99% of the time without problems, that last 1% – amplified over tens of thousands, and eventually millions of drivers – would result in some real problems of unacceptable frequency.
That may in fact be the case, and it may not be a problem we can fix in the next few years. Apple, however, seems to be betting otherwise. With recent reports hinting that an “Apple Car” could be coming out within the next two-to-four years, the most valuable tech company in the world is starting to make some noise as relates to driverless tech. And to put it in the most straightforward way possible, The Street writes that Apple has patents for virtual reality in autonomous cars.
What does that mean, exactly? Well, the early reports are that it means passengers in an Apple (or possible Apple tech-infused) driverless car will be able to <em>shoot zombies</em> in a VR experience that goes hand-in-hand with the car ride. It’s an idea that almost seems like a joke the first time you read it, and yet it’s one that appears to be very real. And it raises the idea that self-driving cars could be used not just to allow drivers to relax, but specifically to entertain them as they go. One wonders what other VR experiences could possibly work in this sort of situation, and these are a few ideas that come to mind.
Car Chase Shooters – This is a little bit of a creepy concept, because in a way it’s simulating combat between your vehicle and others on the road. But we’ve already taken shooters to incredibly realistic levels, so it’s probably a likely possibility. In fact, if we’re to be battling zombies, we may as well be in first-person, Grand Theft Auto-style shootouts while our self-driving cars steer us along. It would certainly help pass the time, though it could also make riding legitimately scary.
Racing Games – This seems like the obvious choice for a VR game based in a driverless car, though it might be trickier than we imagine. Racing games require pace, and there’s a chance that getting caught up in that kind of pace while your actual car is moving along at what would be a slower and less erratic pace could lead to motion sickness or something similar. That said, if the ride is smooth enough, the fact that you could be sitting in a real car seat, perhaps with a steering wheel-like controller, could make it feel incredibly realistic also.
Casino Games – There’s something to be said for some of the simplest VR experiences making it into cars as well, so as to provide passive entertainment without any of the action and speed that could cause the motion issues mentioned above. Casino gaming could mean simulated poker or blackjack tables, or even slots and arcades that come to life around you. 3D gaming styles have taken over the slot genre already, and a couple of the popular games that have thrived in 3D have been turned into VR experiences already. They’d make for excellent road trip entertainment with relatively little hassle or risk of discomfort.
Audioshield & Fruit Ninja – These are a little bit different because they’re specific games rather than genres. But in a way they’re similar. Fruit Ninja just means slashing fruit as it falls in front of you in 3D space; Audioshield works like VR guitar hero, only with punching motions instead of a plastic guitar. But both mean you’re simply staying in place and reacting to elements coming at you – something that almost sounds downright pleasant as you sit in a comfortable car seat moving along on your way.