There are any number of examples of technology having taken over a previously manual function, specifically because human control was not fast enough. I gave some simple examples in cars, but this sort of gradual change is pervasive in everything. As the years go by, and the technolgy continues to evolve and improve, it becomes almost unthinkable that the job was ever allowed to be done by a human previously.
In the car example, catalytic converters would not survive a day (or at least ,not very long), if the choke and the fuel/air mixture were still trusted to humans. In fact, they wouldn't survive very long even if these jobs were still done by mechanical carburators. That's the main reason why all cars had to go to electronic fuel injection. And we hardly give that a second thought anymore.
Stick shifts are gradually going the same way. Too unpredicable and inefficient. Many modern stick shifts coax the driver into the shifting to the "proper" ratio. And too, for efficiency, gearboxes are now sporting 7 or even 8 gear ratios. Practically impossible for a human to select the right gear.
Driving is probably going to evolve the same way, over the next many decades. And I wouldn't be a bit surprised if people in the next century will marvel at how humans were EVER trusted to do their own driving. Sort of like wow, you must have really been naive to trust the other guy to drive next to you.
Sorry, Junko, but if people cherish their freedom and their own driving experience, then they don't want to travel on those roads that will be set up for self driving cars. Otherwaise, you defeat the prupose of the self driving car.
Obviously, this would take a very long time to develop. At first, only a few roads would be set up with the necessary infrastructure. So people should have options. But quite honestly, I see this in a larger context, where more and more of the driving has been taken away from the driver, in the past 100 years.
Used to be the driver decided on everything, from changing gears to setting the choke, fuel/air mixture, and the spark advance, to covering up the radiator on cold winter mornings. Very, very inefficient. As things became automated, in each instance, it was SPECIFICALLY to take away that individual human input, and to have the job "done right."
Self driving is no different. Take away the quirky and unpredictable human behavior, in order to make traffic flow smoothly and efficiently. Just like you took away the driver's ability to set the fuel/air ratio, in order to let the combustion process be as efficient and clean as possible.
"...a self-driving car will eventually learn how you drive -- everything from steering to acceleration and other driving habits." seems like a way to resolve the issue of liability when accident happens.
Leaving liability and responsibility aside, I can see the future of self driving car. Even though it may still be a concern in traffic, I am pretty sure long distance driver will enjoy it very much. If nothing else, cargo transportation company will be extremely happy to adopt the technology if government allows self-driving car to go on the road w/o a "driver".
Having said so, I still believe liability and responsibility to an accident are the biggest stumbiing block to the wide acceptance of self driving car.
The first goal should be to make a car that you can drive as you always have, but that will not let you run into another car, person, or object, and that will not allow you to lose control and kill yourself or your passengers.
Once the car does that, you can drive it any way the hell you please within those constraints. All the way from doing everything yourself, (just within the constraints of not hitting others or losing control), all the way up to allowing the car to do all the driving while you sleep in the back seat. I'm not sure why we couldn't have it all -- except for the part where cars kill you or others around you.
Will the self driving cars take all the fun of self-satisfaction of control? Today also people who can afford have chauffeurs, which actually is synonymus to the self-driving cars. As far as technology is concerned, i think we have it in pieces but the biggest missing piece is the infrastructure.
Several people in this thread have made the point that drivers vary in their responses to situations, but that also applies to driving itself. The car manufacturers like to think that drivers enjoy the act of driving so much that they would not want to give it up, but I would say that varies significantly from driver to driver and from time to time. I'm a big fan of automatic climate control, because I can just set it to a temperature and forget about it. My wife, on the other hand, constantly fiddles with the temperature and fan settings because the automatic system just never gets it right in her opinion.
Any long-time commuter is also aware of the difference in traffic patterns between rush hour and random times on the weekend. Rush hour is the closest that we currently have to automated driving. People tend to fall into very predictable patterns during this time, and even bad ideas tend to be standardized. I will tend to pull over and let BMW drivers pass, since in my experience they are more likely to tailgate, and people will tend to be more aggressive about getting around me in my Honda Insight, since they know that I tend to accelerate more slowly. Weekend traffic, on the other hand, gets much more random.
My expectation is that many commuters would gladly hand over the controls during their commute, but some might be less interested in doing so over the weekend. Eventually behavior will change, but that usually changes much slower than the technology.
I think there are a number of interesting issues here. I think we can all agree (or most of us anyway) that ADAS has already improved vehicle safety and has the potential to do a lot more as it proliferates. But it's one thing to have this technology as an enhancement, and quite enough to take the driver out of the picture altogether.
First off, we are many many years away from this being a reality. And even when/if it becomes a reality, the driver is still going to need to be involved. One danger I see (among many) is if there comes an emergeny and a person needs to take control of the car in a split second, that driver had better be paying attention. You can see the potential for the "driver's" attention to wander if he or she is not actually driving the car most of the time. I think that is a huge issue.
This gets into an interesting area of engineering/technology implementation versus the marketplace and consumer psychology. On the one hand, as Bert22306 suggests, personalizing self-driving cars to emulate their owners would seem to defeat their purpose - or at least completely undercut most of the potential advantages. On the other hand, how many consumers are likely to buy into the concept of essentially purchasing a taxi or bus for their personal use, where the driving itself is completely automated and out of their control?
Perhaps these self-driving cars will come equipped with robotic or virtual chauffeurs? Then the perception wouldn't be a case of buying a "self-driving car" but instead a car equipped with a "personal driver."
Don't make a self-driving car that follows personal behavior...was also what my instinct said initially.
But the chat with Freescale's Mr. Santo opened my eyes. Think about it. Self-driving cars, in many ways, will interfere with the freedom of your own driving.
Of course, if self-driving cars are designed strictly for those who loathe driving, it's a different story.
But many drivers today have their own instincts, sense of freedom, which they enjoy and cherish while driving.
If self-driving cars turn out to be a big turn-off for those drivers, they won't go anywhere...