The Psychology of Unmanned Cars

Self-driving automobiles are coming to the scene more and more every year, and while these new cars are exciting and take the pressure off of us to drive, there is a still a huge roadblock in the way of their success: us. The makers of self-driving cars hope that one day we’ll see less traffic and more safe driving techniques, but it still remains to be seen whether this technology will really take off.

Unmanned cars give the cars the ability to make more calculated decisions on the road, an increase in fuel savings, and overall better safety options, and an opportunity to take your eyes off of the road while on a roadtrip. While these offerings sound great to some people, it spells trouble for others who are unsure about sharing the road with robotic cars rather than human beings. According to a recent study from AAA, only 1 out of every 4 Americans would trust a self-driving car completely.

For others, unmanned cars could be the solution to many problems we see on the road today. These cars won’t ever be fatigued enough to inhibit their driving skills and they also won’t ever be tempted to drive after imbibing in alcohol. Human error is to blame for many driving accidents so, to some, the answer to safer roads is by giving people less control over the vehicles they’re driving. On that same line of thinking, you’re taking a gamble every time you get in the car with a friend, take the bus, or even ride in a train because you are not aware of the true nature of the driver’s cognitive functions prior to boarding.

The important thing to realize here is that self-driving cars does not mean that humans are going to be extremely valuable while these new cars are being introduced into the market. There are different levels of autonomy these vehicles will have and it’s imperative that the driver still be aware of what the car is doing while it’s driving in case he or she needs to intervene. The level currently available in the market is level 2, which offers driver assist features.

To be truly successful, these self-driving cars need to feel familiar and understandable to the driver. There is nothing more frustrating and scary to people than not understanding how their vehicle works or worse still, not being able to take control of the car in a dire situation.

Check out my other blog on Google’s Self-Driving Cars.