Jeffrey Miller, an associate professor of engineering practice, was a participant in a survey about autonomous driving. He had reservations. The technology to make autonomous cars a reality may be ready, but American drivers don’t seem to be.
From smartphone-addicted teenagers to researchers designing the next generation of self-driving vehicles, there’s a fair amount of skepticism among consumers when it comes to letting go of the wheel and allowing a car to do the driving, several surveys over the last year have found. Even engineers have some qualms.
“I have no problem letting a car take control,” said Jeffrey Miller, an associate professor of engineering practice at the University of Southern California. “But having a car take my kids to school? You’re talking about people who don’t have the ability to take over if something goes wrong. I’m not that comfortable with it.”
That sentiment was echoed in a survey of over 400 respondents by IEEE, the professional engineering organization, that grew out of a round table that Professor Miller took part in. On a scale of 1 to 5 — with “very comfortable” being a 5 — more than two-thirds of the experts in the study said they weren’t ready to have a robotic car play nanny, giving the concept a 3 or lower. Not exactly a ringing endorsement from engineers of the state of the art in self-driving cars.
“It’s not the technology. It’s user acceptance that’s holding us up right now,” Professor Miller said.
- Not everyone is equally happy handing over control.