PARIS -- The very idea of self-driving cars is stirring a lot of discussion, not just on technology and safety -- which is the foremost concern -- but also about the legal implications and about legislation that would allow self-driving cars on the road.
Here's a little-known fact: The 1949 Geneva Convention treaty that bans torture and war crimes, but it also has section that specifically talks about road traffic). Under that section, every car must have a live driver behind the wheel.
And yes, kids, there were cars in 1949.
Setting all these issues aside though, one more item is making some people nervous.
How do you sell a car to drivers who won’t be driving anymore?
Last week when I was covering the European Microelectronics Summit (whose focus this year was automotive), several speakers apparently couldn’t resist Luddite putdowns like, “How will a certain Bavarian automaker be able to sell an Ultimate Driving Machine that needs no driver?”
Jean-Pierre Corniou, deputy general manager of SIA Partners, a management consulting firm, is concerned with social factors affected by innovation. He asked a rhetorical question: “Are we really going to buy a $100,000 car, supposedly for the pleasure of driving, only to be told not to touch the steering wheel?”
During his presentation, Corniou shared the slide below, and quipped: “What do you suppose this driver is thinking with his hands on his thighs?”
We invite you to suggest what you think might be going through the driver’s mind in the comment box below.