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Anna’s Anachronisms: Karl Benz versus the Tesla Model S

I watched with anticipation as Karl Benz approached the car from the door of a large, brown brick building. His eyes were wide as they scoped the sleek length of the Tesla Model S parked against the curb of the sidewalk. From my vantage in the driver’s seat, I could see the shock wash across his face as he stopped at the “frunk” of the vehicle and popped it open to find… cargo space. With a deer-in-headlights look on his face, he jogged back to the rear of the car to open the back hatch. More empty space, with 5 ready seats before that. “What is this magnificent vehicle?!” He demanded to know as he opened the passenger door, settling into the comfortable seat and scanning the interior’s design. He marvelled at the widescreen display and quirked an eyebrow as he realized the electronics were somehow being charged by the car. “This, my friend, is a Tesla Model S.” I responded as I activated autopilot and typed our destination into the GPS displayed on the screen. The engine purred to life as the car smoothly pulled away from the curb, while my hands remained folded in my lap. “We’re moving!” He exclaimed, bracing himself against the dashboard as he whipped his head back and forth to stare out the windows. “Yes, we are,” I giggled. “This is what I wanted to show you… this car is capable of driving itself!” Karl’s jaw dropped and there was a laden pause before he sputtered, “Driving itself? But… but how?” “There are cameras all around both for the security system and for driving, various sensors and a computer built into the car itself. It can also play movies off of the internet, display and follow maps as you see on the screen, charge my cellphone, and so much more.” I explained as we rolled to a full stop at a red light before it changed and we gently accelerated onward. “It also runs on electricity, you have to charge its batteries instead of filling the engine with gasoline.” “Internet? Cellphone? What?” Karl blinked in awestruck bewilderment, shaking his head as if he’d just emerged from cold water. “And how does it run on batteries?” “That’s all for another day. But I can explain the batteries. “The battery holds a charge off single phase 120-/240-volt outlets, passing at maximum 10 kilowatts. You plug the car into the adapter, and it pulls power off the city’s grid. The battery pack itself is the floor between the two axes of the car, believe it or not.” “I can’t believe it,” Karl rebutted, rubbing a hand to his forehead. I waved my hands and he gasped, instinctively flinching before rational kicked in and he remembered the car was driving itself. “So, if it drives itself, what if an accident were to happen?” “Well actually, the first fatal accident for 130 million miles of this particular model happened in 2016. A woman will barrel full-speed into the side of a tractor-trailer that blocks the lane. But considering the gas-powered descendants of your design average 1 fatal accident per 95 million miles… it’s not any worse than the usual risk, if not slightly better though less controllable at the moment. There’s also a manual mode.” “Well, I suppose all I can do is just enjoy the ride.” Karl abated as he leaned back in his seat.

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