While mainstream automotive companies including Nissan™1, Audi™, and Toyota™2, and technology companies such as Google® and nVidia®3 have been making a lot of noise about driverless cars lately, the Barbie™ division of toy company Mattel® has been secretly testing more than fifty self-driving cars in a suburb of Chicago.
Over the six months of testing, one pervasive problem has come to light: the cars are too laid back. “These cars are just too nice,” explains Allison Walker, one of the testers. “Even if you’re not driving the car, sitting in traffic is really frustrating. You want the chance to show your frustration in the way you drive.”
In response to complaints like these, Mattel® has included an ‘Aggressive Mode’ in SP3, its latest software update. An automated car will now monitor its passengers’ heart rates, blood pressures, testosterone levels, tone of voice, and vocabulary choices and respond by modifying the aggressiveness of its driving.
When the passengers get really pissed off, the car will respond by speeding, peeling out, running red lights, driving on the shoulder, and buzzing pedestrians and cyclists. “We have every confidence in the safety of our self-driving cars,” says Mattel® marketing representative Curtis Ferguson. “This upgrade will allow motorists that ability to express their feelings which is so much a part of the experience of driving, while eliminating the possibility of accidents caused by errors in judgement. We anticipate that this feature will be extremely popular.”
“We also started work on a new ‘cell phone mode’, to simulate the behavior of a driver distracted by talking on a cell phone or sending a text message,” adds programmer Tatsuki Koide, “but management failed to approve that feature.”
There have also been several rumors concerning possible Easter Eggs, secret features built into a program waiting to be discovered by experimenting users. The most pervasive of these rumors concerns the existence of high powered water cannons capable of drenching passersby, motorcyclists, and drivers of convertibles. None of the rumors have been confirmed at this time, although curious testers continue to experiment in the hopes of finding something unique.
Public domain photo by Thue, available at http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Car_crash_2.jpg