Public Will Not Accept Self Driving Cars Unless Shown To Be Safer

SDVs Should Be Four to Five times as Safe as Human-driven Vehicles

Self driving cars were hyped as one the greatest recent inventions in the automotive industry. Many people were dazzled by the new driverless cars but a great number are still skeptical on how safe they are.

To look for answers whether these vehicles could alleviate traffic issues and increase safety, a survey was launched by Peng Liu and Run Yang, Tianjin University, and Zhigang Xu, of Chang’an University.

The key finding showed that the public will not accept this new technology unless it is shown to be safer, approximately four to five times as safe as human-driven vehicles (HDVs). Despite the conveniences SDVs would bring to individuals, the public will be much less likely to accept, or even tolerate, SDVs if they have the same risk level as human driving.

A new study was published in Risk Analysis and examined the question “How safe is safe enough for self-driving vehicles (SDVs)?”

Uber Technologies Inc. and Tesla building self driving cars
Autonomous vehicles were developed by Uber Technologies Inc. and Tesla Inc.

The Study

Previous studies demonstrated that an individual increases their demand for safety when safety is entrusted to an external factor, such as an automated vehicle. To learn if this is really true, the survey was conducted.

The survey was distributed to a sample of residents in Tianjin, China. Of the 499 respondents, half were randomly assigned to complete a version of the survey for HDVs, while the other half completed an SDV version. Risk frequencies were expressed as one fatality per a certain number of vehicle-kilometers traveled and as one fatality per a certain number of population, respectively. Respondents were asked to accept or reject each traffic risk scenario at one of four levels: never accept, hard to accept, easy to accept and fully accept.

The results show that the respondents believe that SDVs should be four to five times as safe as HDVs. Current global traffic fatal risk is estimated at 17.4 per 100,000, which is 350 times greater than the frequency accepted by 50 percent of the respondents for SDVs. This implies that respondents expect SDVs to improve safety by two orders of magnitude against the current traffic risk.

With these results, the researchers suggested that tolerable risk for SDVs, is four to five times as safe, meaning they should be able to reduce 75-80 percent of current traffic fatalities.

Our results and method may help government authorities to establish clear safety requirements for regulating SDVs and also help SDV manufacturers find consumers’ expectations for SDVs that must be met,” states Liu, Ph.D., assistant professor of industrial engineering.

TESLA Builds Fully Self Driving Cars

Tesla was one of the first to build the car of the future, when it announced plans to develop fully self-driving cars.

At that time, Elon Musk announced that Tesla expected that by the end of 2017, one of its cars would be able to drive from New York City to Los Angeles without the driver having to do anything.

Tesla cars were built with more cameras, giving computers a full 360 degree view around the car.

Although these cars are not that smart yet, Tesla says they will learn fast.

Mina Fabulous
Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn't preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.