'Autonomous Trap 001,' an art project by writer and conceptual artist James Bridle, is a clever, winking merger of vanguard technology and ancient pagan ritualism. Though the exhibit is little more than markings on a rest station off of a Greek highway, it deftly calls out the inherent absurdity in one of the most hyped technological innovations currently in vogue: autonomous vehicles.
Autonomous Trap 001 consists of a contiguous circle of salt surrounded by another, perforated circle of the same. Alone on the highway, the markings look odd, but when an autonomous vehicle falls into the trap, its purpose becomes more clear. According to the rules of the road, vehicles can cross over dotted lines but not back over solid lines. Self-driving cars, which rely on machine vision to operate, would thus cross into the circle and be stuck, unable to break the rules. The trap is thus a modernized version of pagan circles that summon spirits.