"We were rolling eastward across the San Mateo Bridge in an Audi A7 at a dutiful 55 miles per hour, and I was riding shotgun accompanied by two of the car's engineers. With a sticker price topping $70,000, the A7 is a fancy car, but not an uncommon one along the stock-option-paved highways of Silicon Valley. I looked around at the drivers around us, knowing they hadn't a clue about what was happening right beside them. Traffic was getting thick, as rush hour approached. Outside the window, the water of the San Francisco Bay was a dull green, like patinated copper, pitted by tiny waves. A bright blue sky. Our car’s test driver was smiling pleasantly, hands on his thighs, not touching the steering wheel at all.
Then the car in front of us slowed. Our car, sensing this, began to change lanes gradually. But then came a driver to our left, dickishly racing into our blind spot, cutting us off. I griped to myself about California drivers with their composting and their unvaccinated kids and their vestigial turn signals. But the Audi wasn’t bothered. It merely sensed that other car coming, drifted back to center of our lane, and eased onto the brakes so as not to hit the car in front of us. You wanted to be scared, but it was over before you realized it happened. It was like being driven by that uncle who could tell you how to survive a snake-bite or order a roast chicken in seven languages. You trusted what was happening, and that was remarkable: The car, by design, was calming me before any worries could surface. This is exactly where so many carmakers have failed."