@prabhakar, these are all great points. I agree. These things will take time.
That said, the question, though, for carmakers is that how much resources they should spend on building a perfectly safe autnomous car (enough sensors, lidars, redundancies, etc.) and at what price they should sell it. How many early adopters will be out there so that the automotive industry can justify their investment...
You ae absolutely right about the first accident involving a self-driving car. I am sure Google is dreading it, although as you mentioned, all the while, thousands of people continue to get killed by "ordinary" traffic accidents.
@Bert, as to your first point, ha ha, indeed. But i love having a skeptic built into our household so that I often get tough questions, challenging the very premise we take for granted in the tech world.
As to your second point, boy, that youtube clip you referred to scared hell out of me. It's a good one. I mean, it's a good reminder how badly things could go wrong when humans are in control of driving.
As to your third point, you wrote:
My third point might be that it probably won't be a question of whether people are willing to pay extra for some of these new features. They will become mandatory. I'm sure that if you asked people, back in the 1960s and 1970s, whether they would pay extra for seat belts, airbags, and catalytic converters, they'd predominantly say no.
I actually agree with your point here. But as to where I put in bold "becoming mandatory," now, I wonder if this might become a political issue in the future.
We may be currenly underestimating the sentiment shared among so many people, particularly in the United States, who would oppose to any type of regulations, mandates, or controls, no matter how reasonable they may be. Look no further than gun control issues. The government is NOT taking your guys away, and yet, that has become a single talking point for anyone opposing to the idea of imposing background checks.
The question to ask is : "if i offered you a cheap, automated taxi, to take to/from work at your convenience , would you agree " ?
For that scenario most won't care about emotional ties to cars.
And even getting 10% of people to say yes is great -those are the early adopters. In every market you first need to sell to some part of the early adopters before everybody starts to be interested. And for such a potentially risky tech 10% is a very good number.
About 50 years back, if a survey would have been taken , asking people whether they trust the on line transactions , the result would have been 100 % no.
In the early days of computers' adoption in the daily office use , many a people still preferred the manual typwriters . I have seen people hesitating to even touch any key on the keyboard fearing that the computer may explode or something "Fatal"
( Remember "Fatal Error" =those days computers used to flash for any kind of silly mistake you would make while typing a comand?)
In the early days of email - people would not be sure whether the email will reach the detsination in time reliably, so they used to phone the person after sending the email to make sure he recived it.
So it takes time for a generation used to haing some technology to adopt new technology - the fear of unknown!
So just wait for today's kids to grow up and be happy sitting in those self driving cars without any hesitation and worry about its realiability and their safety.
Moving from Boston to Barcelona we have discovered the joy of being carless!
But you need to live in the city and have good public transport (Barcelona is one of the top 10). When we need a car for holidays, long weekends, etc. we just rent one.
The thing about European cities is they are not suitable for driving, unless you have your own parking everywhere you go.
If we decide to have a car we'll probably get an electric one. They are a bit more expensive but you get free parking, reduced toll rates and free charging around the city. And, with gas at $7.85 per gallon, electricity is cheap.
The more you decouple the driver from the task of operating a motor vehicle, you are giving up (potentially) one of the best vision systems in the world (the human eyes and brain). With all the cockpit automation it is easy for the pilots to lose track of the task at hand and hand over the trip to the auto pilot. Recall the recent landings at wrong airports? As a pilot, I like just "enough" automation to help me but still keep me engaged in the process. I think blind side dection is an awesome technology, but not convinced a completely automated car is a good answer (unless it is at disney on a monorail :-))
Would be happy to give up driving most of the time, as long as I have some freedom to drive myself when I want to (e.g. in holidays). I know that after a long working day on a boring stretch of road, I am not the safest driver around... Not really interested in driving. So if public transportation or by bicycle is not an option, why not? As others already commented, it might actually be more safe than driving yourself. Yes, it will still take some time to get the systems reliable, and to get trust in it. Though for the moment, for everyones safety, I'll stick to my bike for the daily commute.
Great article Junko and I think it's more than about automated cars,
You mentionned trust issues concerning machines and automation, why there's so much "no". One more reason is people want to be in control of their own safety. Even if it is be more secure with self-driving cars (way more likely), they will still feel less safe. Planes can auto-land when there's really bad weather so that's not really a technology issue.
I'm waiting for the first accident including a self-driving car for the debate to really begin, during that time hundreds people will be dead in "regular" controlled accidents.