Would you let a self-driving car drive for you? Should they be permitted on the road at all? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will host the second of two public forums concerning the future of the self-driving car at Stanford University today, in an effort to seek input with regard to the “safe deployment of automated safety technology,” and find an answer to just how self-driving cars will be brought mainstream.
Public opinion on self-driving cars is split, according to polls conducted by New Morning Consult, which indicated that 43 percent of registered voters believe that self-driving cars are “not safe” and another 32 percent believe that self-driving cars are “safe;” 25 percent of those polled reportedly stated that they did not know or care.
A separate poll, conducted by the American Automobile Association, indicated that “three of four” U.S. drivers are “afraid” of autonomous cars, as reported by the Auto Blog.
On Tuesday, five companies formed a coalition aimed at influencing “federal action to help speed self-driving cars to market,” as reported by Reuters. The coalition, named Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, is reported to list Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG, GOOGL), Uber, Lyft, Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), and Volvo (STO: VOLV-B) as members.
“We are witnessing a revolution in auto technology that has the potential to save thousands of lives,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx was quoted. “In order to achieve that potential, we need to establish guidelines for manufacturers that clearly outline how we expect automated vehicles to function – not only safely, but more safely – on our roads.”
Of those polled by New Morning Consult, younger respondents, age 18-29, were more likely to state that self-driving cars are completely safe: 45 percent versus 33 percent of those who believe they are not safe. Among those age 45-54, only 23 percent believe autonomous cars are completely safe, while 48 percent believe they are not safe at all.
Public opinion, as measured by New Morning, is also split along gender lines with a majority of males, 44 percent, stating that they believe that self-driving cars are safe, compared with only 21 percent of females. Fifty percent of females and 35 percent of males responding to the poll stated that they felt autonomous cars are not safe at all.
When asked if they would ride in a driverless car if they had the chance, 51 percent of New Morning poll respondents stated that they would not, and 25 percent stated that they would.
“What people are looking for is clear rules of the road of what needs to be done for (fully autonomous) vehicles to be on the road,” David Strickland, the new self-driving car industry coalition counsel and spokesman was quoted Tuesday. “Nobody wants to take a shortcut on this.”
The NHTSA reports that, in 2014, 94 percent of 6.1 million reported traffic crashes were caused by human error; these crashes resulted in 2.3 million injuries and 32,675 deaths. Could autonomous, or self-driving, cars improve on this record? CEO of Tesla Motors, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA), Elon Musk, recently stated that drivers using the company’s Autopilot enjoy a 50 percent reduction in their chances of a crash, and that these odds will likely improve as the technology improves over time, as reported by the Auto Blog.
In early March, an Alphabet-owned Google self-driving car crashed into a bus in Mountainview, California, the eleventh such crash, as reported by The Inquisitr.
Yesterday, Popular Science featured a car being driven by “deep learning” NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA) self-driving technology and video footage of the car navigating winding rural roads and highways.
Would you ride in a self-driving car? All of the time? For both city and highway driving; or just for parking and valet service? Should they be permitted at all? Tell The Inquisitr what you think about the future of self-driving cars in the comments below.
The NHTSA self-driving car forum at Stanford will feature a live stream beginning at 3 p.m. ET.
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