Drivers Continue to be the Largest Problem with Autonomous Vehicles

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【Summary】With the introduction of more Level 2 semi-autonomous systems, drivers’ lack of knowledge on the systems is starting to catch up to them, creating a group of daring individuals that are willing to push boundaries.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Mar 02, 2018 10:00 AM PT
author: Vineeth Joel Patel   

As more automakers and technology companies continue to come out with more semi-autonomous and self-driving tech, they're running into a major problem – drivers. Accidents continue to happen as drivers share roads with self-driving vehicles and major ones reveal a fundamental flaw with how drivers are using the machines.  

Earlier this year, USA Today reported that a Tesla Model S owner ran into the back of a stationary fire truck, while going down a highway at 65 mph in Culver City, Calif. The owner claimed that the vehicle was operating in Autopilot mode

Semi-Autonomous Car Owners Are Willing To Take Risks

The incident, as Market Watch claims, reveals that owners of semi-autonomous vehicles are pushing boundaries because they don't fully understand what the machines are capable of. As the outlet points out, drivers are overestimating just how capable the semi-autonomous vehicles. What drivers need at the moment, then, is more education. 

The majority of self-driving cars on the road today are classified as Level 2, which means that the vehicles can handle some driving tasks, like driving on the highway, changing lanes, parking, and more. The driver, though, is still in charge of these vehicles. 

Automakers are already working on Level 3 vehicles that can handle even more driving tasks, which, as the outlet claims, has created a dangerous moment in the automotive industry as drivers don't understand what their cars are capable of. 

"The interplay between humans and technology, technology being in control of driving, puts us at a risk," said Joan Claybrook, a former administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Driver distraction could have been a deadly factor in the Tesla crash [with the fire truck]," said Claybrook.  

Drivers Need More Eduction

While education sounds like it should become a necessary part of an autonomous future, it's not that easy. "Education has not been effectively addressed by those that are working to get the cars to the marketplace without thinking through the ramifications," said Jason Levine, an advocate with the Center for Auto Safety. 

As Levine points out, every automaker and tech company has a different take on making a vehicle drive itself. There are hundreds if not thousands of variations for autonomous systems and being able to educate drivers on all of them is nearly impossible. 

A proposed Senate legislation for autonomous vehicles would make education programs on driverless vehicles mandatory. But as Levine put it, that's easier said than done. Still, there's a need for consumers to know exactly what an autonomous vehicle is capable of. 

"Consumers need to know what they can and cannot do, and how they can interact with vehicles, or we'll have consumer pushback," said Senator Gary Peters, a Democrat from Michigan. 

With technology leading the way forward, education will also have to utilize technology to ensure that consumers know exactly how to use their machines. Market Watch points towards an exhibit at the Washington D.C. Auto Show earlier this month from Toyota that saw attendees get to experience a self-driving car via virtual reality. 

Another method would be to put consumers that are interested in purchasing a semi-autonomous vehicle behind the wheel of a car in a closed-off location and give them a first-hand look at exactly what the cars can and can't do. 

As smarter, more capable vehicles are released, it's crucial for consumers to know exactly how to use their vehicles and the limitations of the tech. 

via: Market Watch

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