Who’s afraid of self-driving cars?

Nissan Autonomous
Nissan driverless car research

Apparently, many are.  But why you should or shouldn’t be afraid is the real question.

A Harris Poll just unveiled a study that says that 88 percent of U.S. adults would be worried about riding in a driverless car.  Driverless car, or autonomous driving cars are “the next thing” in the automotive industry, and while some might worry about a car that drives itself automatically, with little to no human input, they should also consider how well our driving habits are working out today.

The Harris Poll Survey

New technology disturbs habits and disruptive technology can send a population into a frenzy.  Rightfully so, a driverless car can be unsettling to many at first.  Yet, considering the amount of new cars and drivers hitting the road each months with limited driver education, the increased bad driving habits, i.e. text while you drive, talk, even listening to music for young drivers, have already shown the terrible consequences.  Are driverless cars the solution?  They are part of the overall solution, and offer a few undeniable benefits.

According to Rick Riccetti, President and CEO, Seapine Software, the company that commissioned the survey: “As driverless cars enter the market, car manufacturers face the challenge of managing new technologies, like wheel speed sensors and laser scanners, to ensure quality, safety, and compliance with strict government standards and regulations… This research confirms that consumers likely won’t hand over the wheel until auto companies can prove equipment is safe from software glitches or failures.”

The survey, conducted among 2,039 adults ages 18 and older found that 79 percent of these U.S. adults would worry that the equipment in a driverless car will fail.  The main are: braking software glitch, failed warning sensor that alerts the driver of danger and more.  Here are the following worries:

• 59 percent are worried about liability issues, such as who would be responsible if a driverless car is involved in an accident.
• 52 percent fear a hacker could breach the driverless car’s system and gain control of the vehicle.
• 37 percent worry auto companies, insurers, advertisers and municipalities may collect personal data such as where the car goes and how fast it’s traveling.
• Only 12 percent said they would not be worried about riding in a driverless car.

You can see how such worries will create a new segment in the automotive industry designed to answer these concerns, mainly insurance and neutral third party certifications.

What this survey shows is that people want the freedom of driving, but are reluctant to let go of what little control they have over their vehicles.  Strangely enough, many still drive while texting, or other equally distracting habits.  This is part of the adoption curve of any new technology.  First you like the idea, then, you get frightened because you don’t understand what goes on behind the technology.  Once it’s proven, you wonder why you didn’t like it at first.  Sounds familiar?  It should.

We will cover more on driverless cars, as well as a few interviews with key players in the industry. The automotive industry is poised to facilitate driving, as well as ease the drudge of constant attention in traffic condition, often times after a tiring day at work.  We will explain the technology behind it and show you that driverless cars will have as many redundant fail safe systems as airplanes have these days.

Nicolas Zart
Born and raised around classic cars, it wasn't until Nicolas drove an AC Proulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Eager to spread the news about those amazing full torque electric vehicles, he started writing about this amazing technology and its social impacts in 2007. Today, Nicolas covers renewable energy, test drives cars, does podcasts and films. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he made in those industries. His articles are also published on Teslrati, CleanTechnica, the Beverly Hills Car Club and Medium. "There are more solutions than obstacles." Nicolas Zart