Fear Of Self-Driving Cars Is Declining
Waymo, the self-driving car company created by Google has been testing its self-driving cars in the United States.
Back in November Waymo announced it was modifying its self-driving program. Since then they have removed the backup driver from behind the steering wheel and have begun testing the cars with only an employee in the back seat.
The company has been testing self-driving cars without the front seat driver since November, albeit just around a small area. Over time, that area will grow to encompass more of the Phoenix area in Arizona.
The autonomous cars have been driving at night since the beginning of the program, but they have significantly expanded their fleet. The initial fleet was 100 cars but has now grown to 600 across all cities where testing is underway.
In December, one observer saw a woman riding a bike and pulling her kids behind her in a trailer. They were cycling in the bike lane at the time when a Waymo car came up behind them and it didn't seem to know what to do.
It stopped behind her, and just kept slowly creeping forward. The vehicle did not seem to recognise the bike trailer as it may have been seen by the onboard A.I. as an unusual object in the bike lane. The car seemingly crept behind the cyclist and the trailer for more than 30 seconds before it negotiated around the bike.
This suggests that there is still some progress to be made with the technology but in saying that, autonomy is here and developing to the point where the fear it engendered before is declining.
A number of people still would never trust their safety to a self-driving car. I noticed that most of the people responding this way were older, but it made me curious about the actual statistics on opinions of self-driving vehicles.