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Self driving cars? My wife says no

© June 2015 Anthony Lawrence

Google and others are continuing to test self-driving cars. The future supposedly will find these vehicles taking over our roadways over the next few decades. It is said that private vehicle ownership may become unusual; if you need a ride, you'll summon a self driving car when and if you need one. Of course all of this has far reaching effects: traffic safety, pollution (easer to enforce rules on companies than individuals) and more. Car insurance for individuals would be affected as would traditional txi drivers and new services like Uber. It's a brave new world, indeed.

Well, not if my wife's reaction is typical. We were talking about this on a recent long drive.

"I wouldn't trust it", she stated flatly. I pointed out that robotic drivers are likely to be much safer than humans. They aren't distracted by anything, will be in constant communication with each other about road hazards and can react much more quickly than we can. Sensors will given them a far greater view of their environment, they won't panic should a wasp fly in the window and they won't drive at unsafe speeds - although once all humans are off the road, they probably can safely drive much faster than we can!

She wasn't buying it. "Even if all that is true, I wouldn't feel safe. And I'm not going to wait for a taxi: when I want to go, I want to go NOW", she added emphatically. I explained that the wait might be very short as true driveless vehicles can be deployed to patiently wait near potential customers - one might be right around the corner. She wasn't convinced.

If her attitudes are typical, the promised future may be farther away than we think. According to some studies, many drivers agree with her: they don't like giving up control even though they know they are safer. This probably won't change until all the drivers who grew up having that control are gone.

Green lights for our self-driving vehicle prototypes

The automated dilemma: How to keep drivers from feeling like robots

Google Will Now Tell Everyone When its Driverless Cars are in a Crash

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