In the past, quite a few science fiction films used driverless vehicles, often portraying them as a wonderful boon to the human race. Yet, over the last few years, it's fair to say that the debate has centred more often on the problems the development of self-driving cars has encountered, rather than the lifestyle benefits to be gained.
Safety over innovation
A recent survey, conducted in January of this year by the American Automobile Association (AAA), found roughly one in five people thought developing self-driving vehicles should be a focus. However, four out of five surveyed were more interested in their current vehicle safety systems, such as lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking. Their view was that these should work more effectively. In fact, almost six in ten were keen to have these systems in the next car they bought.
From today into tomorrow
Greg Brannon, the AAA's Director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations, recognised a willingness to embrace new technology. But this would be the case if it delivered a safer driving experience. He reckoned that a better experience now '...will pave the way for the vehicles of tomorrow'.
Still lukewarm about full vehicle automation
We Australians are recognised for our willingness to expand our horizons and embrace change, but would you step into a car that drives itself? This US survey suggested that only 14% would be willing to trust such a vehicle. The remaining 86% were either unsure or downright afraid of the idea!
Does your current car offer ADAS technology?
The journey to self-driving cars, should that become a genuine destination, is likely to be a gradual one. Most new cars in 2020 would have incorporated at least one Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS). The most common are likely to be lane-keeping assistance, blind-spot technology, or automatic emergency braking. This suggests that real-world problems are at the front of many drivers' minds, rather than more esoteric possibilities!
What does the future hold?
Perhaps, in a couple of decades, the careful caution that this survey suggests will seem misplaced. After all, as Elon Musk of Tesla once memorably pointed out: 'When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars, people said, 'Nah, what's wrong with a horse?' But it's clear that building confidence is still probably more important than building those self-drive vehicles!