With Google’s self-driving cars hitting the public streets of Palo Alto this summer, American’s are engaging with the concept of taking their hands off the wheel more than ever before.
And one study by the non-profit Eno Foundation showed that self-driving cars could potentially save more than 21,700 lives — not to mention $US450 billion dollars a year. Even if some Google cars have been getting into accidents.
But would people actually be willing to give up their right to drive in favour of potentially-safer driverless vehicles?
In a new poll conducted by the Ferenstein Wire suggests a good chunk of Americans — 27% — would support laws restricting human drivers and favouring robot cars.
A report from Business Insider Intelligence forecasts there will be 10 million self-driving cars on the road by 2020. And Barclay’s, U.S. predicts the rise of autonomous vehicles may cause the sale of new cars to plummet by up to 40% in the next 25 years.
Even with this market change on the horizon, 71% of those polled said they wouldn’t give up the driver’s seat, and would oppose any restrictions (only 1.6% said it would depend on the scope of the regulation). But they might not have a choice. The Verge reported that Tesla founder and avid predictor of things to come, Elon Musk, thinks the government will eventually outlaw human driving altogether. It’s just too dangerous.
Bill Gurley, who is a partner at Benchmark Capital and an Uber board member, thinks driverless cars still have a ways to go before people will feel comfortable being replaced by them. Currently, the machines are too prone to error, and Gurley believes humans will be far less forgiving of a fatal car crash caused by a computer than a human.
“There’s a science where people talk about what percentage of time you need a product to work versus not work,” Gurley explained at the South by Southwest conference in March. “Like the amount of up time [versus down time] on a website. That concept, where there’s almost no error in technology, is referred to as ‘four nines.’ For a machine to be out there that weighs three tons moving around at that kind of speed, it would need to have at least four nines. Because an error would be catastrophic. I think we’re a long way off on that [faultless driving technology].”