So, I decided to test drive one of those new automated Google smart cars you see driving about these days.
Well, to be perfectly honest I haven’t actually seen one as such, I read a story online recently and figured there must be quite a few about though.
Chances are I wouldn’t be able to spot the difference anyway, well, maybe. Not sure how programmers would tackle trying to set up Artificial Intelligence to handle driving around Athens, but I suppose if we can get a rover to navigate around on Mars anything’s possible.
Personally I think the easiest solution would be to strap a bouncy castle to a Quad bike and cut the brakes, from what I’ve seen, it has much the same effect as what you see as the ‘norm’ anyway!
Parking would be an all together more problematic issue as what constitutes as somewhere to ‘park’ in Athens is a law unto itself anyway. I’ve been here quite a while now and I can’t understand the rules which govern what ‘is’ and ‘isn’t’ somewhere suitable to park, so I can see an uncertain future of automated cars, never being able to stop as travellers and hopeful travellers hurl themselves into passing vehicles.
I decided to embrace the future, today and do my little bit to help improve the transport system of tomorrow, this morning, before lunch…Θ)
So, I had a great morning and got too see some of Athens in a whole new light at the same time. Not sure who the guy sat behind the driving wheel was either but clearly having a BAD day as he had a real attitude problem from the minute I got in the car.
As we proceeded around the streets of Athens, I must admit I wasn’t entirely convinced that this new ‘AI’ driving experience was going to be a success. Twice the vehicle stopped for no apparent reason before the guy next to me started shouting and screaming at me like I had control over the car!? Idiot.
The second time he actually got out the car, walked round to my side of the vehicle, opened the door and started pointing and waving his arms all over the place like a lunatic, so I’m not sure what that was all about.
After about 5 minutes and when a number of other cars started tooting, he eventually got back in and we proceeded on our journey.
My first complaint is that it would be nice for these AI vehicles to not already have someone in the vehicle. I appreciate the whole carpooling argument, but at least warn people first. Plus, having just gotten used to the Greek Taxi’s sharing your ride, I assumed that these new ‘smart cars’ shared the same space saving principles and so didn’t want to make a fuss at the time.
I don’t mind them having an Inflatable driver, you know, something to make you feel relaxed or to give you a sense of being chauffeured around, but they need to pick the people with a little more thought.
Unfortunately his English wasn’t all that good so we developed a sort of ‘language barrier’ between us which didn’t help. He must have been a foreigner because nothing he said made any sense whatsoever.
Having lived in other Countries in Europe I had come across this before, thankfully my Greek’s now to a level where I can still sound like an idiot and not make any sense to anyone whatsoever, so I sympathized with the guys frustration.
Apart from the language problem though and whatever was else was troubling him, the car seemed to perform well and at times it actually felt like someone was driving the car.
My second observation and possible complaint was that there didn’t appear to be any way of plotting or adjusting your course/route. There was an iPhone hooked up to the dashboard and clearly plugged into the vehicle but whenever I tried to change the radio station, modify the SatNav or use any of the functions the guy next to me just went crazy. He even slapped my hand on one occasion. How rude.
In fairness, maybe the language barrier prevented me from being able to relay my instructions to the navigation guy but even when I resorted to pointing left and right when I wanted the car to turn, nothing happened.
Another slight criticism is to make the fact that it’s a new AI test car stand out a little more and to make it much more obvious. There were no stickers, markings or symbols synonymous with Google, it being an AI test car or anything to differentiate it from a normal car.
I suppose that’s why they are test cars. But still, seems like quite a big oversight when you think about it.
Anyway, after a nice 15 minute drive around Athens the car dropped me off at the Police station in Attiki.
It wasn’t my first choice of destination but the navigation (as mentioned) has a lot to be desired anyway.
The Police weren’t as friendly as I hoped they would be, not sure why they even got involved other than maybe Google hasn’t informed them yet to the fact that their station is the only drop off point in Athens.
Well, that was a tense little affair. Sense of humour when dealing with the Police is clearly not a bonus.
For a long time the British Embassy recommended that people abroad don’t carry their passports around with them for security reasons etc, so, bearing in mind that I don’t make the rules, proceed as you will.
As a result of renewing mine recently and still having my old one around, I figured it’d be a smart move carrying this around in case I still needed to actually have to produce my ID, with the intention that if they needed to see my new one I could always bring it in if required.
Obviously swapping my photo with a picture of Donald Trump and changing my name to Alexander Merkel didn’t go down too well but at the time, it was funny.
No matter how much I urged them to ‘always see the bright side of life’… I mean, nothing. Even when I hummed it in a cheeky manner, nothing.
I know it’s not mandatory to have a sense of humour when you work for the Police, but surely the job has it’s days. Just my luck, it wasn’t today.
Even when I was in Germany and accidentally came across a couple of Officers patrolling by the Black Forest, even they saw the funny side to me asking if Goose stepping and The Ministry of Silly walks shared any Nazi roots.
Well, I almost got a smile. I laughed anyway, desperately hoping it was contagious – but it wasn’t. The only things flashing through my mind to try and make light of the situation were Blackadder, Football, WW1, and the picture of the Madonna with the fallen boobies from Allo Allo. None of which were likely to induce a positive vibe to the discussion thus far.
It could have been the fallen Madonna with the boobies, I can never remember.
I just know it involved a Knockwurst sausage!
Humour’s individual, I laughed, inside, briefly anyway.
Turns out Germans don’t understand British humour, Who knew!?
I think there’s more to it than this to be fair but it’s subject for a much more serious debate elsewhere.
So, back in the dungeons of Attiki, I bided my time and planned my escape…
Well, waited, bored and confused by the days events.
After several hours they released me.
No apology or anything.
So, it was now mid afternoon and I needed to get home. I’d had enough excitement for one day and felt that the Gods were now conspiring against me.
Unbeknown to me Athens has also adopted that free bike policy which is so popular in Amsterdam, and other European countries where pikies and chav’s don’t live.
This would never be popular in the UK. Well, popular it might be but after the opening day you’d just see convoys of lorries piled high with bicycles being driven by grinning toothless pikies as they made their way to the scrap merchants the length and breadth of Britain.
So, in Greece, game on. It took a while to find something suitable to cut through the chains but eventually I succeeded in acquiring a bike. Seems a bit pointless having a bike share program and padlocking your bike to a lamppost, but anyway.
“Elbow Grease” my nan would say as she shot off the kitchen worktop and slid out the kitchen and into the cucumber patch.
So, I’d only gotten 2 feet before the very same Policemen who’d stood watching me cut through the chains grabbed me by the shirt.
Blah blah blah he said in his best Official voice, blah blah blah I replied.
He looked at me, even less amused than our previous dealings had allowed for and whilst manhandling me off the bike, proceeded to try and drag me towards the Police station.
“Someone’s going to steal that bike” was all I could keep thinking. This idiot Policeman has just left a perfectly good bike lying in the street and has taken it upon himself to harass me, again.
“Why this is an outrage. I have rights. I’m an EU citizen you know… Is it cause I is Black…” I screamed…
I woke up on the cold floor of what I can only assume was my prison cell. It was dark, the air was thick and the room smelt of Strawberry Hubba Bubba.
Hmmmm, haven’t had that since I was at school I thought to myself, briefly, before taking stock of my new predicament.
The room was small, or I was very big.
It was too dark to tell which was which and I had no reference points so I assumed that maybe I was indeed still the same size I always have been and resisted the urge to panic.
F*ck it, time to panic. Why the hell was I thinking about Hubba Bubba at a time like this I wondered to myself.
And why was I locked up…?
It slowly came back to me or at least bits did as I fought to regain my composure.
Never write a blog post when you’re minds brutally corrupted by thoughts it can’t control…
Moral of the story : Life.
That sh*t f*cks you up…