Tech & The Web

Would You Trust Self-Driving Cars?

A new survey shows self-driving cars have an image problem with it comes to consumer trust.

I’ll admit it: there’s something nice about the idea of being able to get into a car, press a few buttons to tell the car where I intend to go, and then just sit back and let the car do the work to actually get me there.

All of the things we’re not supposed to do behind the wheel — eating, drinking, even reading the paper — might one day be an option. Short of having a chauffeur to cart us around wherever we wish to go, a self-driving car might be the only way that’ll ever happen.

There’s just one little tiny problem with that: you have to be willing to trust your ride to a computer.

A new survey from AAA says that while 60% drivers would like to get some kind of self-driving feature in an automobile, 75% of drivers say they wouldn’t feel safe in such a vehicle.

The accident the other day involving a Google self-driving car and a bus, said to be possibly the first accident that was actually the fault of the computer.

It’s one accident — and a low-speed accident at that — in nearly 1.5 million miles, the Wall Street Journal reports, but that’s still one accident too many, especially if the human driver will still be held responsible for the computer’s mistake. (I’m assuming, after all, that in a real-life scenario, cops will ticket the human behind the wheel, not Google itself.)

There’s news footage I’ve seen of a Google self-driving car coming to a stop at an intersection where a line of young children are crossing the street in the car’s path. I’ve seen the video dozens of times, but knowing a computer is driving that car, I get a little uneasy every time I see it, as if I’m wondering if the video will somehow be different.

That feeling alone tells me I don’t trust that technology.

It doesn’t help, mind you, that I’m something of a control freak, and would feel very strange being in the driver’s seat and playing the part of passenger. I just don’t know that I could be comfortable with taking my hands off the wheel.

Do you trust self-driving cars? Could you be comfortable in one?

3 Comments

  1. My husband feels perfectly happy [not] driving a car; he trusts it. His Ford C-Max has the automatic parallel parking, but I’m too much of a control freak to relinquish the wheel. There’s also the worry that some decision-making scenarios need exploration.
    For example: the car sensors tell it that there is an incipient accident and there are only two possible scenarios that might allow for a life to be saved. The car can either strike and subsequently kill, a pedestrian or the car can avoid the pedestrian, and, in doing so, wrap itself around a tree and kill it’s driver/passenger, the only person in the vehicle. Don’t overthink this – I’ve been on enough medical school involving motor vehicle collisions where it is a one or the other scenario… Until they have worked out those really difficult problems, I’m not ready to trust this vehicle just yet.
    But Luis freely admits until we as a whole do trust the car without hesitating and hitting the breaks or in some way interfering with the vehicle’s interactions, we aren’t ready yet. He hopes that by 2025, this technology will be running and common place.
    Me…I hope not.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.