When I was a child I loved to play a PC game called "Battle Zone," the point of which was to steer a green, wireframe tank around an x-y grid in order to launch yellow squares of artillery at other coat-hanger vehicles when they popped out from behind stationary polygons. Mashing the four arrow keys and the space bar became the very reason I wanted a computer. But before I lapse into a Four-Yorkshiremen-esque memoir about how bad it was in Those Days, I'll get to my point.
On November first, Mitsubishi launched what they've dubbed their "Live Drive Event," an eleven day opportunity for five thousand potential customers to take part in the world's first online test drive. Basically, their boffins rigged a robotically manipulated version of their 2011 Outlander Sport to be controlled by individual users over the internet. Each user had an allotted time to steer the Outlander around a closed course by mashing buttons on his or her keyboard.
If the participants tried to crash the car, which many did (38 spent their entire test drive spinning donuts), the on-board computer would take over and keep the car from rolling, driving into the sea, or pulverizing Mitsubishi's unimaginably expensive equipment. It was quite a technological feat, even granting Mitsubishi the Guinness world record for the furthest distance driven by any vehicle controlled over the internet- 91 miles. And while curiosity abounds at who might have held this record before and what might have possessed them to set it, I can't help thinking that Live Drive is a bit of false advertising.
To me, this had little to do with driving. Yes, the user did, by some definitions, control the vehicle, but there is a big difference between Controlling something and Driving something. Remote control doesn't offer the gentle, consumer level G forces working your neck when you take a corner too fast or the seat belt's loving embrace when you brake too hard. This is Driving. If I can't do that, I might as well be playing Battle Zone. And Driving is just much more fun.