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Accidents have eroded public trust in self-driving vehicle technology

By Shawn Knight · 37 replies
May 22, 2018
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  1. Self-driving vehicles have the potential to revolutionize personal transportation but as with any game-changing technology, people aren’t always receptive to change – even in instances where the benefits could far outweigh the shortcomings.

    In a new report from the American Automobile Association (AAA), 73 percent of American drivers said they are too afraid to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle. That’s a significant bump from the 63 percent of people who responded similarly in late 2017 and quantifies the public’s eroding trust in self-driving vehicle technology.

    The report also notes that 63 percent of US adults said they would feel less safe sharing the road with self-driving vehicles in a pedestrian role (while walking their dog or riding a bicycle, for example).

    Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations, said that despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety. Any incident involving an autonomous vehicle is likely to shake consumer trust, he said, which is a critical component to the widespread acceptance of autonomous vehicles.

    Indeed, self-driving cars have been involved in a handful of accidents in recent memory, some of which were fatal. In March, a self-driving Uber vehicle struck a pedestrian as she was crossing the street, resulting in her death. Tesla vehicles driving in auto-pilot mode have also been involved in multiple accidents.

    Surprisingly enough, millennials – a group that has traditionally been receptive to automated vehicle technology – was the most impacted by recent incidents. According to AAA, the percentage of millennials too afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle jumped from 49 percent to 64 percent since late 2017.

    Crash photo courtesy Associated Press

    Permalink to story.

  2. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 4,540   +3,132

    ...but mass shootings will never erode the US resolve at keeping their guns, because that kills only 1000 times more often than autonomous driving today.

    Sorry for a little off-topic, just couldn't help it...
    smitrobz, Hasbean, Vito05 and 7 others like this.
  3. frostyshield

    frostyshield TS Booster Posts: 87   +89

    "Accidents with self driving vehicles due to 90% being the result of humans not in the self driving vehicle resulted in public trust issues due to the fact a human cant be blamed for others stupidity"

    Fixed it, 90% of these "accidents" are the result of humans outside the self driving vehicle like other drivers and pedestrians. only a tiny fraction were caused by actual self driving faults/errors.
    Evernessince likes this.
  4. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing - click on the rock below.. Posts: 4,111   +1,213

    As I recall, folks felt that way about John Bull, the locomotive, which was feared to take all of your breath away at 25 mph. That was 1831 and we've come a long way.
    Evernessince likes this.
  5. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 773   +604

    You are comparing deaths by guns used by criminals? Grasping at straws, lefty? Ouch. yeah, way out in foul territory. Actually that's more of a strike. *whif* ;)
    JaredTheDragon likes this.
  6. dualkelly

    dualkelly TS Booster Posts: 81   +54

    If anything this boost confidence in guns after all mass murders are what guns are designed for. We have to make sure they work properly right?
    Trillionsin and ForgottenLegion like this.
  7. Featherawr

    Featherawr TS Rookie

    Just because they're criminals doesn't mean it's not harder to obtain firearms if there are restrictions. It's not like every criminal is part of an organization that has access to illegal firearms, and common sense would suggest high school students committing mass shooting are not very likely to be a part of a criminal organization.

    Also tbh I live in Canada and it's not like we don't have murders at schools, but usually it's done with a knife or something like that, and believe me, it is a hell of a lot harder to kill a group of people with a knife than it is with either semi automatic rifle w/ large magazine (or multiple magazines) or even a rifle with a bump stock.

    It's also not like you can't have guns in Canada, hunting is very popular especially among conservative areas.
    Last edited: May 22, 2018
    Evernessince likes this.
  8. antiproduct

    antiproduct TS Addict Posts: 118   +129

    I guess they just need to have more video/stories of autonomous vehicles avoiding accidents (like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FadR7ETT_1k) to gain the trust back. Also, this tech is still heavily in development, give it a couple years and it'll be better. Until then, I get to go home and deal with an annoying 40 minute commute.
  9. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,129   +1,635

    You know all those autonomous flying taxi articles we've been seeing lately? Wait until one of those carrying passengers crashes and you'll see the collective world lose its mind.
  10. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,473   +1,046

    "Ignorance has eroded public trust in self-driving vehicle technology"

    There, fixed it.
  11. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Guru Posts: 621   +399

    No, you broke it further. Of course most accidents are caused by other people - that's the point of being a safe driver in the first place. To avoid mistakes caused by other people. Self-driving cars and the Artificial Stupids that power them cannot possibly react with the insight and speed that a decent, intelligent human driver can.

    But to be fair to you, even a decent, intelligent human driver cannot avoid every accident caused by the Real Stupids.
  12. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,537   +3,915

    Self Driving vs. Driver Assist ................ there MUST be a distinction or we are going to be talked out of the greatest cure for distracted driving, drunk driving, senile drivers, etc, etc. Self Driving is certainly not perfect, but the advances made over the past few years are tremendous and at this rate they will have a dependable device ready in the next few years. Driver Assist should be outlawed if for no other reason than to stop the confusion with Self Driving. People are insanely gullible and hear what they want rather than the facts. Driving Assist is being lumped in with features like "lane centering" and "assisted braking" which are useful but not a substitute for a truly autonomous vehicle.

    OK, that's my rant. Being over 60, in a few years that truly self driving vehicle will keep me independent while saving the rest of the drivers out there from my own diminishing skills. It will eliminate all but the most dedicated drunk drivers and give the teenagers plenty of time to start their new families the night of the prom ....... talk about practicality!
  13. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 4,099   +3,655

    That's what's called the lawbreaker paradox. If laws are not effective at curbing criminal behavior, why have laws at all? The only problem with that logic is reality. Laws are effective and the basis for modern society. Clearly society has shown it values laws, it's just that certain societies choose to ignore that for "freedom". Of course freedom is in quotes because people are willing to give up fellow American's right to live for their right to light regulation gun ownership. Last time I checked the USA was founded based on "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness". I guess that doesn't apply to America's youth though. No wonder these kids are depressed, their future is full of debt, there is zero trust in authority, and their parents care more about guns then they do their kids. On top of that doctors are pushing pills on them, they have to deal with social media, and they have to live with the prospect that the first few jobs they have won't even pay them enough to live, let alone make college loans payments. This is a zero sum moment for America's youth.

    Machines can react in ns right now, humans react in 250ms or 250000000ns. Speed is not a problem, it's adaptability. You say that machines could not possibly do a human's job yet machines have been replacing humans in more and more advanced work. It takes 6 months to train a car assembly worker to a decent degree. It takes zero with a machine because once the technology exists it's easy to replicate. Driving is not hard, it's follow the dotted line. If the roads were a controlled environment, we'd already have self-driving cars. It's other humans that make the machine's job harder. We just have to make better machines.

    People were surprised at the first personal computers that no longer were the size of an entire room, I don't want to get a call from you 15 years from now when self driving cars become mainstream.
  14. hood6558

    hood6558 TS Evangelist Posts: 353   +110

    You've boiled it down to the key problem - making it *****-proof. That includes the relative idiocy of AI machines. If a boy suddenly darts into the street from between parked cars, no existing automotive computer will be able to select and apply the precisely correct combination of actions that will save his life (braking, steering, reverse gear, controlled skid, intentional crash into parked car, etc.). Maybe in a few years when a mainframe super computer will fit in your glovebox (and your budget). They'll get there, but that kind of processing power in a small enough size and price will take several years to develop. So you're right, until then, it must be made clear that "self-driving" cars do not exist, and "letting the cruise control drive" is suicide (like it is for any vehicle). I think Tesla started this misconception, that driver assist = autonomous mode, by calling it that incorrectly. Right behind you, Uncle Al, I turn 60 next week.
  15. ET3D

    ET3D TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,661   +321

    But decent, intelligent human drivers, are, what, 5% of the population? :)
    ForgottenLegion likes this.
  16. Theinsanegamer

    Theinsanegamer TS Evangelist Posts: 1,587   +1,797

    Hardly ignorance.

    A "self-driving" car would require an AI smart enough to handle it, yet current AI is below the level of a rat. We MIGHT hit dog intelligence levels by 2040. Yet, despite this lack of intelligence, companies are pushing HARD for self driving cars and assisted cars ece.

    So now, we've seen this technology panic over a bush, or a squiggly line. We've seen teslas smack into concrete barriers at speed apparently blind to the BIG SOLID OBJECT DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THEM and being unable to react in time. We've seen uber hit and kill a pedestrian despite having LiDar, which should have seen her and reacted in some way. And we are supposed to believe these cars can drive themselves within a few years? All they have shown is that the technology is going to screw up just like humans (despite all the pressure from the industry about how much safer they will be) and suggest a new future where the technology is causing the crashes, with cold, calculating efficiency and apparently an inability to react to a situation unless specifically coded to do so.

    You cant really blame people for being wary of these technology infused Frankenstein-mobiles after watching multiple high profile failures occur, despite technology that should have made such an accident impossible. What we are seeing here is millennials waking up to the idea that "hey, silicon valley isnt ALWAYS right, in fact they can screw up HARD, and they will not take responsibility for it" and responding with increasing wariness to the promise of robo cars.
    Vito05 and wiyosaya like this.
  17. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 369   +183

    Part of the problem is that techno-fantasists are promulgating unrealistic expectations for self-driving cars. Self-driving cars do have their place -- and it's quite a place -- but its not everywhere. The car with no steering wheel or pedals is actually terrifying because it renders the passengers helpless in situations where they shouldn't be.

    On the highway, autonomous vehicles are a great blessing. The "limited access superhighway" was designed to essentially turn drivers into robots. The driving experience is streamlined down to where there almost no executive decisions. Drive from city to city with nothing but hours of fearful high speed madness staying in a lane. An autonomous vehicle can do that better and safer and make your trip much more enjoyable.

    Downtown -- forget it. There are constant stimulations and decisions that require all of your human capabilities. That's where the accidents with self driving cars happen, but even if the accidents were eliminated, the frustrations with being a helpless passenger in your own car would not.
    Kytetiger likes this.
  18. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,131   +2,420

    And in the US, our 2nd amendment supporters always fall back on the fact that the guns are used by criminals, therefore, they must get those guns via criminal means.

    However, in at least a few of the recent school shootings, the criminal got the gun from their parents.
  19. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,473   +1,046

    Sure, accidents have happened, in the technology's infancy. But basically all those high profile crashes (that the media usually fearmongers over, or has misleading titles for) have either had warnings to the driver (yes, even the BIG SOLID OBJECT DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THEM was warned about) or wasn't going to be avoided by humans anyways (I'm still waiting to see the logs as to why before I jump on the ignorance wagon). The general public has been treating news of this technology irrationally (no thanks to the media) and a lot of people have been assuming that the tech is supposed to be 100% autonomous at this stage.

    Why don't you look into the stats of how safe the tech has been the other 99% of the time, and how it has also helped avoid accidents out of human reaction time? You won't see that stuff reported in the media.
  20. Trillionsin

    Trillionsin TS Evangelist Posts: 1,824   +427

    People make mistakes. People designed the software. Hmm..... *scratches head*

    How's this really any different from normal accidents? You should say it was caused by the software, or the environment... or you could blame it on the human factor.

    I haven't done my research, but have the accidents been caused by some additional human interference?

    If so, you could potentially argue that there would be no accidents if all vehicles were AI driven.

  21. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,131   +2,420

    I have never had significant confidence in self-driving technology because of one main issue - what happens when GPS data is bad? In the past, there have been horror stories about unfinished roads showing up in GPS data as finished - even freeway ramps that lead to drop-offs.

    For me, gagme's proposal to omit any manual controls from the vehicle immediately rules out my buying it. Self-driving tech is just not there yet, as I see it.
  22. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,131   +2,420

  23. m4a4

    m4a4 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,473   +1,046

  24. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,131   +2,420

    The problem with the stats is that if they are not improved before the cars are used everywhere, then that means that statistically, the number of incidents goes up since you have more self-driving cars on the road that, statistically, could be involved in accidents. How many miles are there on self-driving cars compared to cars that are not self-driving? My guess would be that that number is a fraction of a percent, and those who stand to make a buck from their tech will use big numbers in their marketing to make it look as if the tech has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt - which - at this point - it has not been.

    IMO, that the car drove into that big solid object directly in front of it is ludicrous, not to mention an egregious failure of the tech. No matter how many people try to blame those crashes on the driver including Musk himself, THE CAR SHOULD HAVE STOPPED!

    I am not saying self-driving tech will not improve, just that I do not believe it is at the point where it is reliable enough to take over the day to day driving of all drivers. Some day, yes, but not yet.
  25. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Guru Posts: 773   +604

    This news is so important because deaths have been happening that otherwise shouldn't had. How many have NOT been reported? In these cases, it is the engineers who are "proud" of their technology that it is directly their fault. These companies are so proud and wanting to make a buck that they could care less about deaths. They have already bought off the homeless lady they plowed. Hardware and software failures happen all the time, and they know this. Even on brand new vehicles. I'm sorry, but more and more senseless deaths will be happening.

    If these were human-driven vehicles, it would be their own fault for their deaths. They can only blame themselves.

    Then you have the deaths where computers go on a killing rampage - they completely ignore objects to kill people, and avoid obstacles that have no danger whatsoever to drive wrecklessly. So I ask you this - would you trust one of these to step out in front of one? If not, why would you want these on the roads?

    I do agree that there would be less fender benders - in perfect conditions. These things can't account for variable stopping distances, while I can as a human. They don't know how much further they have to follow to stop safely. They also don't know how much grip they have on sharp turns. Good luck going around that cliff in the snow in one of these...
    wiyosaya likes this.

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