Will people ever trust self-driving vehicles?

As autonomous vehicles continue to surround discussions in the automotive industry, a crucial question remains how much do both drivers and pedestrians trust AVs?

Autonomous driving division, Aurrigo – part of RDM Group – has joined forces with Jaguar Land Rover to fit ‘virtual eyes’ to its autonomous pods, in an attempt to understand how humans might trust self-driving vehicles.

Drivers and pedestrians do not trust AVs

In a survey published earlier this year by AAA, 73% of drivers surveyed reported that they would be too afraid to be in a self-driving vehicle, this figure up significantly from 63% in late 2017.

Additionally, over 60% of adults reported they would feel less safe sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle, while walking or riding a bicycle.

The survey comes after a woman was killed by a self-driving Uber in Arizona in March this year. The autonomous vehicle failed to detect the cyclist, which is an absolutely critical feature of the technology.

Tesla Motors was the first company to disclose a death involving a self-driving car two years ago, when the sensors of a Model S driving in autopilot mode failed to detect an 18-wheel truck and trailer crossing the motorway. Subsequently, the car drove full speed into the trailer, colliding and killing the driver.

Although it is a subjective argument, these fatalities and the survey show the lack of trust in AVs from both drivers and the general public. Can the new project learn more about how humans interact with the technology, and therefore encourage people to trust AVs?

The aim of the technology is to help work out how much information future self-driving cars should share with users or pedestrians, to enable them to begin to trust the technology.

As part of the study, more than 500 test subjects have been studied interacting with the self-driving Aurrigo pods.
As part of the study, more than 500 test subjects have been studied interacting with the self-driving Aurrigo pods.

As part of the engineering project, JLR has enlisted the help of a team of cognitive psychologists to better understand how vehicle behaviour impacts human confidence in new technology.

The virtual eyes have been devised by a team of advanced engineers, working in JLR’s Future Mobility division. Engineers record trust levels in the person before and after they look at the virtual eyes, to find out whether it generates sufficient confidence that it would stop for them.

As part of the study, more than 500 test subjects have been monitored interacting with the self-driving Aurrigo pods.

The trials are part of a wider study exploring how future connected and autonomous vehicles can replicate human behaviour and reactions when driving.

Much more research needs to be undertaken to examine and therefore understand how people view autonomous vehicles. With considerable developments continuing to happen around AVs however, they will certainly be part of the automotive industry’s future, but whether drivers and the general public trust them at the moment is doubtful.

Case study: Dyson

Dyson is now focusing on entering the electric vehicle space - image courtesy of Dyson.
Dyson is now focusing on entering the electric vehicle space – image courtesy of Dyson.

Electric appliance manufacturer, Dyson, is investing in autonomous and electric vehicles. The company released plans today surrounding a redevelopment of an airfield in Wiltshire as a research facility for autonomous and electric vehicles.

The Hullavington site could reportedly house up to 2,000 employees, as Dyson propose to build over 10 miles of vehicle test tracks for both EVs and AVs.

These tracks could include specific routes tailored to assessing AVs, such as their handling ability, off-road capabilities and how self-driving vehicles could tackle obstacles such as steep gradients or crowded and narrow roads.

This announcement comes after, the company trademarked the term “Digital Motor” in the European market, as it prepares to launch the first of several new electric vehicles.