Will we ever trust our lives to a self-driving car?
According to many, self-driving cars are coming whether we like it or not. But could we ever really trust them?
The public’s trust in the idea of autonomous vehicles is low, according to Intelligent Car Leasing’s research, with an overwhelming proportion of respondents said that they would not trust one over a human driver. Renault have been developing the Symbioz – a prototype car designed to illustrate the possibilities of autonomous driving. It comes with a VR system that lets drivers experience a journey through futuristic cityscapes and even fly over digital forests instead of watching the boring old motorway as they travel.
World Business Report: Hands off the Wheel
Theo Leggett took a spin in the Symbioz for his BBC report, and was left less than impressed after a safety driver had to take over. There are no plans to mass produce it yet, but in the future it is quite possible that similar cars will make up a significant portion of traffic on the roads.
Thatcham Research is looking at new cars to find out why we don’t trust them
According to their studies, the concern is that drivers must be fully aware of the difference between assisted driving and fully automated driving. Assisted driving is what most of us do today – ABS and rear parking sensors are just two examples of assisted driving technologies. The car will help with certain tasks, but the driver is still ultimately in control. Thatcham wants the cars of the future to make the distinction between the two types of system very clear. Otherwise, they believe that accidents could be caused by people trusting the car to drive them autonomously, when it won’t.
Remote control as an alternative
Another potential option is a kind of remote control – you sit in the car, and someone else drives it remotely for you. Some manufacturers are developing just such systems, which might be easier for people to put their trust in than a fully automated car. It has the added advantage of being much lower-tech, and therefore cheaper. It might not be practical for every car on the road, but it could help car sharing or valet services move cars without having to put a physical driver inside them.
Could the brakes be hacked?
Remote control connectivity, however, opens cars up to the possibility of hacking. Even now many modern cars are connected to the internet, and as such can be vulnerable to attacks that could, for example, disable the brakes. According to research, it’s easy to do and difficult to detect – at least, not until it’s too late. So will we ever trust automated cars? From here it seems unlikely, at least until the technology becomes more robust and reliable and less vulnerable to hacking. For now, perhaps it’s best we stick to driving ourselves. Check out our article for a more in-depth look at why we don’t trust them just yet.