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"It's just a way of introducing people to the technology. People are accustomed to interacting with their vehicles in a certain fashion, especially older drivers," said Warner. "That's why the keyless vehicle still has keys."
In some cases, engineers working on drive-by-wire vehicles are even using force-feedback technology, similar to what is available in some video game controllers, to mimic the mechanical feel of a vehicle, such as the vibration drivers feel when revving up a car.
"We feel through our hands what's happening, and that helps us understand what's going on with the vehicle and that helps us control it," said Brown. "Eventually, when the Nintendo generation is running the world, maybe you don't need that kind of thing at that point."
They might have no idea, but many drivers have already experienced a version of drive-by-wire: electronic throttle control. That commonly used technology eliminates the cable that traditionally connected the accelerator pedal to the throttle, which is the valve that regulates air and fuel flow.
Also, some high-end vehicles have by-wire parking brakes that automatically lock when the vehicle is parked and release when driving resumes.