There’s an interesting article at the Gigaom technology web site that claims the reason we’re not all yet being chauffeured around in self-driving cars isn’t technological, but psychological.
The article quotes an engineer at Ford US who claims that driver acceptance is the biggest hurdle to overcome for cars that can drive themselves.
Jim McBride, a Ford Research and Innovation technical expert specialising in autonomous vehicle technologies, said: “There is no technology barrier from going where we are now to the autonomous car. There are affordability issues, but the big barrier to overcome is customer acceptance.”
Ford is just one of many car manufacturers working on self-driving care technology and its system can even communicate with other autonomous cars to create a linked networked that behaves in a unified fashion — something that might may motorway driving much safer, for example.
Ford has conducted research into how drivers feel about no being in control of their car for at least some of the time they’re behind the wheel. It found that while there was a general feeling of unease about it, most were open to the potential of autonomous cars — although Ford reckons it will be at least another 10 years before the technology is ready for mass market use, for one reason or another.
Ford is already introducing certain automated features to its mainstream models as a way of making drivers more comfortable with handing over control to computer for some driving tasks.
In the UK, for example, Ford’s optional extras for some new models include traffic sign recognition, low-speed collision prevention, blind spot warning alert automatic parallel parking and automatic lane detection that keeps the car on the not-necessarily-straight and narrow.
Here’s a related clip that shows Cadillac’s adaptive cruise control in action: