Articles, Automation

Do you trust the Autonomous Car to send your kid to school?

The subject of Autonomous Vehicles has been in much limelight in technology, car manufacturing business, and transportation industries. There are many facets to the current debate that has been going on about such driverless vehicles. Different groups of people hold different opinions on whether the technology should be adopted immediately.
Mogul corporations like Google are impressed with the release of their Waymo, but some folks believe that we should wait and allow firms to further develop their autonomous technology to the point of perfection before accepting it on a mass level. Some people though have already started driving these autonomous vehicles, but sadly ended up with accidents. One of the incidents involved a Tesla and turned out to be fatal. For many, however, the autonomous drive has been completely safe – these ‘daring individuals’ did use the autopilot option even on freeways.

The general reception of AV by the majority of Americans has been quite cold

The AAAS conducted a survey a few months ago which revealed that the majority of Americans who responded, 78% precisely were afraid to ride in an AV. In another poll conducted by the insurance giant AIG 41% of the people were against the idea of sharing the road with driverless cars. More detailed studies done by MIT and marketing firm J.D Power and Associates revealed that more people since the last two years are skeptical of driverless vehicles than before.
On the other hand, numerous companies are coming up with autonomous vehicles from sedans to trucks and even school buses for kids. The current split of opinion poses a serious concern for such companies who are planning their future business on the sales of millions of such vehicles. In the light of this situation, researchers have started work to find out what makes people so hesitant towards AVs and what actions may help change their perception.
The results highlight a few interesting but not surprising elements. A psychologist at Brown University, Bertram Malle envisions that acceptability of AVs is going to depend on how people feel when they are inside the vehicle. According to one Intel study, familiarity is bound to help ease the anxiety. The study took 10 volunteers around a neighborhood in an autonomous car and recorded their perception of it before and after the ride on video. Most volunteers had a 180-degree positive turn in their opinion about the technology.
The industry standards on car safety dictate that if you can let your children travel in it, then that car has won complete trust of the consumers. One woman from the Intel study went ahead and said how this ride was much safer than one driven by humans. She also reported that AVs would help save 4-6 hours of her daily commute which are lost in dropping and picking up her kids to school and practices.
In December 2016 however, a Ford survey found that 84% of the 5000 people across UK, Germany, France, Norway, and Spain were not willing to trust their adorable angels with a driverless vehicle although around half of them did believe that autonomous cars are actually safer than a human driver.

What really deters these parents from trusting the technology?

There are several factors. The first and perhaps the most common reason parents don’t trust autonomous vehicles is the lack of adult supervision. A start-up that launched the intelligent and fully autonomous school bus concept called Hannah dived deep into the concerns of the consumers before addressing and explaining each fear and how it may be solved. They believe that their 6 seat school bus will minimize the risk of bullying taking place within the vehicle along with a design where each individual is seated facing each other, unlike ordinary buses where some students get to sit behind others. The start-up added a valid point that even in today’s human-driven school buses the drivers can barely keep up with the kids sitting in the front. So there is little to no chance that they might actually be able to prevent bullying that may take place at the back of the bus.
Companies that make driverless cars are also testing a special trust building software which gives the vehicle a voice. Riders who tested the drive with a voice-enabled car appreciated that the car gave them updates like when it was slowing down for a passenger. However, after a while, people actually got bored of the talking car and wanted it to stop talking. Strangely enough, they had reached a point where they trusted the vehicle so much that they just sat back, relaxed and played on their phones. But is voice command something that can curb children from bullying and fighting? And if that issue is solved somehow, let’s say by video monitoring, will parents then be happy to allow children travel in AVs? Another question that arises from this discussion is what are the other benefits of autonomous school buses? Well, the company that created Hannah believes there are several benefits. Firstly, their design allows only 6 kids. The smaller numbers won’t just make bullying less likely but also save a lot of ‘driving’ time. Kids can be picked from and dropped to their homes quickly. Plus smaller buses are more comfortable to maneuver, and kids can be picked directly from their homes. Not walking to the end of the street, or the main road means that they are less likely to encounter road accidents too. The current system that involves giant school buses is sometimes quite inefficient as not only it follows fixed routes and makes children wait alone at street corners but also many times the coaches travel empty or with very few kids. Makers of Hannah believe that such Autonomous vehicles can benefit the school in reducing their costs and the parents will be happy as their kids come back home quickly and safely.
So do you think you would trust the Autonomous vehicle to bring your kids from school? Do let us know.

About the author:

Rachael Everly loves to write on the topics related to business leadership, finance, technology and education. Her passion and flare for writing got her to write for topics that interest her such as recent technological trends and how they shape the business world. Her thought-provoking writing style has made her work to be recognized on well-known websites. She has been featured on some of the top blogs such as Inman, Forbes, Escape Artist and many others currently associated with Equip Sells It, a heavy machinery and equipment dealer in Sanford, Florida for their blogging operations. Follow her on Twitter @RachaelEverly, become friends on Facebook and connect with her on Linkedin for further updates.