Today you are very excited. Today is the day that you take your first ride by yourself in your new Level 5 autonomous car. It’s dead flash. You’ve been shown how to programme the sat nav by the very helpful and overly toothsome salesperson, and now it is sitting proudly on your driveway after having driven itself here from the showroom. How swish is that? No fuss with collecting it, it was just waiting there when you got home from work. Totes amaze beans. You climb inside and stare at all of the lights and displays that confront you. After a spot of trial and error you locate the sat nav, speak your destination – no more typing anymore – and sit back to enjoy your ride. You even have a celebratory Pimms in your hand because drink driving is a thing of the past. You’ve also taken the liberty of bringing your favourite jigsaw with you just because you could and it fits perfectly onto the little retractable table. Awesome. The car trundles off as smooth as you like and without any noise at all. It feels odd at first, but you soon forget the feeling as you get stuck into your jigsaw. Those 2000 pieces ain’t gonna jig themselves together. You are just basking in the satisfaction of fitting two particularly troublesome pieces together when suddenly the car lurches left. What the…? Then it lurches right. Your Pimms spills all over the new seats. Well, that’s gonna stain and that piece of cucumber will be a bugger to retrieve. Over the next 40 minutes your car zigs and zags, turning sharply left and right, then back on itself and diagonally across fields and over gardens. You are scared stiff as you have absolutely no control over the car at all. People in other cars screech to a halt and pedestrians and gardeners leap out of the way yelling obscenities as you pass by. Eventually the car comes to a sudden stop, throwing you forwards into the control console. Dazed and covered in jigsaw pieces you stare at the sat nav display screen. Where the hell are you? What? You’re miles from home. What the hell happened? You’ll be calling the overly toothsome salesperson right away to complain in the sternest of fashions. You try to work out where you are and so you zoom the map out a bit. Then a bit more. Then a bit more. Your route is traced in red all over the county, but your shock and anger is slowly replaced by amazement and confusion as you look at the red line and begin to realise that it appears to form a pattern. You zoom out even further. How could it…? Is that…? Yes, yes it looks like it is. Good grief… It’s a blurb:
‘When someone hacks into the systems of eight self-drive cars, their passengers are set on a fatal collision course.
The passengers are: a TV star, a pregnant young woman, a disabled war hero, an abused wife fleeing her husband, an illegal immigrant, a husband and wife – and parents of two – who are travelling in separate vehicles and a suicidal man. Now the public have to judge who should survive but are the passengers all that they first seem?’