Adjusting to Driverless Cars


Photo By  Eiric Newth via Flickr


People who drive driverless cars will naturally pass through anxiety as they are unaccustomed to an autopilot driving for them instead. Car companies are therefore trying to find solutions to minimize the anxiety felt by those who are not yet accustomed to them. 

Marcus Rothoff, a Volvo executive, says: "If you don’t trust the car, you can’t do other things,” he said. “We need to make a car that people trust and have confidence in.”

Volvo has equipped their self-driving cars with sensors and cameras so that the eyes, face, and feet of the one in the driver's seat are monitored. Their cars have driverless-assistance technology that is able to maintain a certain speed and keep the car in its lane while maintaining distance from the car in front. An alarm goes off if the driver doesn't keep a hand on the wheel at all times.

The company has also thought of the challenges in the interaction between a human driver and one that is able to drive itself, and this is most especially critical during moments when the driver has to resume control of the vehicle. 

General Motors has its Super Cruise system that can pilot a car on limited access highways and does not require the driver to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times but rather employs a camera to keep the driver's eyes on the road.

It has become significant to understand drivers' interaction with driverless cars since an accident happened that killed a Tesla driver with the autopilot engaged. An investigation revealed that the man failed to keep his hands on the steering wheel despite repeated warnings.

It is important to understand variations in human behavior, says Trent Victor of Volvo. 

“There are people who immediately jump in and trust the system,” he said. “There are people that are very reluctant. A system that is designed for a person that is hesitant has to be designed in a different way.”

For them, it is important to take the development of driverless cars to another level. The good thing is that as technology and AI improve, there will be less and less anxiety in having the autopilot drive us to our destinations.