Free will may delay safety benefits of autonomous vehicles, exec warns

By almost all indications – including government projections  – it isn’t so much a matter of if, it’s only when: Self-driving cars are coming to traffic stops and intersections near you. With over 90 percent of car accidents stemming from driver behavior, experts believe that the autonomous vehicles are bound to result in fewer accidents, saving hundreds, if not thousands of lives each year.

However, one of the auto industry’s foremost authorities isn’t so sure that at the end of the day, driverless automobiles will reduce the loss of human life – and people may be to blame.

Mercedes-Benz CEO Dietmar Exler recently spoke at AutoConference LA, an annual event that takes place in California every November, drawing automotive executives and gearheads from around the country, co-hosted by J.D. Power and Associates and the National Automobile Dealers Association.

While acknowledging that autonomous vehicle are the wave of the future, Exler warned that the transition may not go very smoothly because motorists by their very nature are resistant to change, The Los Angeles Times reported.

“The real issue is humans,” Exler explained.

Will drivers ‘bully’ autonomous functions?

The chief executive officer for the Germany-based luxury automaker elaborated, noting that it’s not as if autonomous vehicles will be operating in isolation. For instance, even if autonomous vehicles become mainstream in the next 10 years, there will still be drivers who operate their own automobiles. Furthermore, because motorists will presumably be able to disable the driverless function at their will, this may result in a “bullying” effect – where motorists assert control and take command from the on-board computer system.

“Most Americans want full control of what they’re driving.”

There’s evidence to suggest that today’s drivers prefer to be the ones at the helm. According to a poll that was paid for by Kelley Blue Book, a vehicle valuation firm, a majority of motorists prefer having full control of what they’re driving. In fact, the same 51 percent feel this way while acknowledging that it may not be the safest way to go.

“The industry is talking a lot about self-driving vehicles these days, with multiple automakers and ride share companies throwing their hats in the competition to build and release the first fully autonomous vehicle to consumers,” said Karl Brauer, KBB.com senior analyst. “Much is still unknown about fully autonomous vehicles, including how they would react in emergency situations, but the lower-level options are gaining steam, with many Americans interested in purchasing vehicles with Level 2 semi-autonomous features.”

“Level 2” refers to the six classes of autonomous vehicles, as determined by the Society of Automotive Engineers. The higher the number, the less control drivers have over their vehicles, with fully autonomous cars being Level 6, as an example.

80 percent believe who’s driving should be human decision

The poll also found that 8 in 10 respondents believed that drivers should “always” be able to pick and choose when or if they want to wrest control from a car’s on-board computer system.

Exler also wondered about the potential for confusion when cars converge in traffic and two lanes are forced to merge into one, the Los Angeles Times reported. For example, an individual who has the controls may prevent an oncoming motorist from entering, while an autonomous car may be programmed to give the go-ahead.

“They’ll look for the autonomous car and that’s where they’ll cut in,” Exler said.

While it’s unclear the extent to which autonomous vehicles will change the safe driving landscape, there will almost certainly be car accidents that result, the fault of which may be determined in court. Here at Global Financial Credit, we specialize in providing law firms with the financing they need to mount a successful defense on behalf of their clients. Here’s more information on how you can apply for a cash advance.

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