This week the fine folks at Tesla and Uber have piqued the interest of weary motorists (and the passengers who exploit them) with their tests of “Driverless” cars. While the idea of being chauffeured around by the likes of KITT from “Knight Rider” or Bumble Bee from the Transformers is what most people will think about first, we can’t help but recall those times when life with driverless cars really, really sucked.
1. Christine (1983)
Sometimes a car has no driver because it’s fucking haunted. John Carpenter’s 80s adaptation of Stephen King’s horror novel is the training manual for road rage. Set in the 70’s, a local nerd named Arnie buys a broken down car—a 1958 Plymouth Fury– that he names Christine. After he restores her to showroom status some thugs deface Christine, wailing on her like that car in the challenge stage in Street Fighter II. But the car goes all Deadpool in every way imaginable, self-repairing the damage before going on a vengeance fueled killing spree.
2. Total Recall (1990)
In the closest example of today’s driverless cab scenario, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a brain-drained construction worker named Douglas Quaid who jumps into a “Johnny Cab” on Mars piloted by an automaton. When Quaid gives him the nondescript order to just “drive” to escape some armed thugs, the computer doesn’t know how to process that request. Quaid yells “Shit” and Johnny replies that “I’m not familiar with that address.” (Reminds me of using Mapquest back in the day.) Anyway, Douglas rips the Jack-In-A-Cab out of his socket and ends up driving the car himself to dodge the oncoming hail of bullets. Johnny has the nerve to charge him 18 credits at the end of the ride and tries to run Quaid over for stiffing him on the fare.
3. Demolition Man (1993)
Defrosted LAPD cop John Spartan (Sylvester Stallone) is adjusting to life in 2032, which includes being fined for cursing, not having toilet paper, touchless sex and driverless police cars. If having to square off with a blonde Wesley Snipes isn’t bad enough, this future also means having to eat nothing but Taco Bell when you go out. For this reason alone driverless cars must be stopped lest they help usher in the gastric apocalypse.
4. Minority Report (2002)
In this dystopian flick Tom Cruise and company do a good job of making the driverless pods very, very appealing. They glide along effortlessly like shiny hockey pucks guided by nothing but human hubris.
But as we find out, there are times when the law literally tries to lock you down and you have to take matters into your own hands. Chief John Andron is forced to break out of the pod and ghostride the whip down a cascade of glass and steel to escape the Po-Po. When it’s time for some action “Everybody runs” regardless of who is at the wheel–or not.