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Motorists may bristle when they hear that self-driving “smart” cars can easily out-drive humans, but a simple video game called Error-Prone appears to pile on the proof.
The game, which is deceptively simple, involves 26 cars, one for each letter of the alphabet, driving in a neat circle. They all move at the same speed and maintain uniform but close following distances. The game invites players to press a letter key to take control of the corresponding car. It’s downhill from there.
Almost immediately, horns begin to blow as players, especially new ones, have difficulty maintaining a steady speed. Holding the key down results in the car speeding forward and crashing into the vehicle ahead. Press the key and then do nothing, and your car stops suddenly and causes a collision.
To maintain speed, one must tap the key with just the right rhythm to maintain speed. This quickly becomes tiring and the player’s speed starts to vary. Soon the spacing between cars gets fouled up and the circle becomes sloppy. Eventually someone rear-ends someone else. Up to 26 people can play, if they can share a keyboard. Test it out here.
Does this sound like your commute?
According to the game’s website, Error-Prone was designed by Peter Cardwell-Gardner and Mark Backler for TrafikJam, a competition that looks at possible future paths for transportation.
The game’s message: “The end result illustrates perfectly how self-driving cars are vastly superior to their human counterparts in terms of traffic grid lock, efficiency and avoiding road accidents."
They add: "The only way to win is to not play at all."