Photo: Vimeo

Our future robot car overlords might do anything from safely carting us around town to attracting armed bandits—and who knows, on occasion, maybe they’ll get a little confused. We all do! Artist James Bridle published a fun video last week showing a goofy scenario where that maybe could happen to a self-driving car. It’s neat to watch.


The point is that, at least for now, autonomous tech has its limits. A self-driving car needs to be able to read the roadway, dotted lines and all. Bridle explained to Vice’s Creators that he’s super into autonomous cars right now, and that he’s currently attempting to build a self-driving research vehicle of his own. At first blush, I took a very general view of the Trap—that it’s meant to illustrate the technology has some limits. Speaking to Creators, Bridle offered a more nuanced view of what’s behind it:

The Trap falls into the category of resistance, while the attempt to build my own car is a process of understanding how the dominant narratives of these technologies are produced, and could be changed. I don’t see why cab drivers of the future shouldn’t be chalking white lines on side streets to derail self-driving Ubers which are putting them out of work, and I also think we need more eyes and hands on the tools which are shaping all of our futures.

Yeah, it’s a bit of performance art—the car, for instance, isn’t autonomous; it’s the one he’s currently refitting with self-driving tech—but there’s certainly much to be said about the hype of self-driving cars and what it’d take to actually get people invested in the idea that they’ll work. In a way, I think Bridle’s piece managed to capture that sentiment in a nice 90-second clip, which you can check out below.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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