Get Out of My Auto, Mr. Roboto

Let’s talk about autonomous automobiles.

There’s a new survey out from the American Automobile Association, or as I like to call them: AAA (yes, that’s what everyone calls them but I prefer to pretend that I have a special informal relationship with them).

They asked a bunch of folks how they felt about riding in cars that were driving themselves. 71% of respondents said they were AFRAID to ride in an autonomous car. And the really interesting thing about this result is that it is higher than when the survey was done in 2017. At that time, only 63% of people said they were pants wettingly scared of riding in a driverless car.

Usually, as technology develops over time, people become more familiar with it and less apprehensive.

In the case of robot killer cars (not a technically accurate moniker), the problem could be some high profile incidents resulting in serious injury and death. In fact, the rising fear of self-driving car could be traced to March of 2018. In that month, two people were killed in separate accidents.

First was the woman in Arizona who stepped into the road and was struck and killed by an Uber test car. A court eventually found that Uber wasn’t criminally liable for this accident, but it made headlines all over the world.

Then, later that month, a man was killed in Northern California while sitting in a Tesla with the Auto-Pilot engaged.

The survey did find that we are less frightened of autonomous vehicles in other settings. For example, a majority of people were fine with riding in airport people mover systems, or in similar systems at amusement parks. And most people had no issue with autonomous vehicles delivering food or packages.

Bill Handel

Bill Handel

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