Autonomous driving is reality. There are self-driving cars and driverless buses. Yet it is kind of a parallel reality, as there is still a wide gap between technology, user trust, and real-life requirements. Still, there is enormous potential with regard to society, safety and economy¹.
So many benefits, so much doubt
Older people and people with disabilities could benefit immensely from autonomous driving, as shown by the success of driverless solutions, e.g. by companies such as Easymile. Automated, and thus more cost-effective taxis or buses could improve access to rural areas; traffic flow might be eased, and the transport of goods will become more sustainable. And, not least, depending on the automatization level, accidents will be reduced dramatically. Despite all these benefits, the evolution to self-driving cars is facing serious push back, mainly due to the fear of crashing. So how do we make the transition in the smoothest way?
Step by step
First, consumers must learn to trust full autonomy – which requires familiarisation with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS)². While autonomous vehicles will not be going mainstream tomorrow, activities to advance road safety are already happening. ADAS solutions are already leveraging the same technologies needed for self-driving safety. They can even be retrofitted to existing cars on roads.
What is “safe”, actually?
Such technologies will help consumers see full autonomy as a natural next step in functionality rather than a technological quantum leap³. As a collective, we will need to develop a universal definition for what it means for a machine to “drive safely”. Let us use the combined creative force of the MQ! community to work out what it will take to make autonomous driving perceived as safe!