The experiences of a passenger in a driverless car

I have wondered about this: what is it like to be a passenger in a driverless car?

As we drove along Chicago’s South Lakeshore Drive, Muharemovic switched the car through three modes which can be selected based on what the driver wants and what the traffic situation entails…

Finally, there’s a Highly Automated mode that adds full-speed ACC with an automatic-resume function that uses free-space detection and side-sensing. This is the one we’re looking forward to.

In fully automated mode, Muharemovic completely removed his hands from the steering wheel and foot from the pedals. At one point he turned around for several seconds to talk to passengers in the backseat. He had a casualness that comes from getting used to the technology over thousands a miles and a steadfast faith in the systems he helped create…

A dyed-in-the-wool Detroit car guy, Muharemovic challenges anyone who fears that autonomous driving will take the fun out of motoring. “I’d like to meet someone who loves traffic jams,” he says, adding that his girlfriend has noticed that he comes home less stressed from his daily commute.

As this article suggests, it will likely take some time for drivers to feel comfortable letting the car do all the driving. But, once drivers see what their commute could be like, perhaps they would like the freedom.

Two other pieces of information I would like to have:

1. In fully automated mode, would traffic jams become shorter because traffic could be more evenly spaced? If so, this would be a double bonus: less traffic and not having to pay attention to whatever traffic there is.

2. I can only imagine what the early lawsuits might be like if one of these systems fails and an accident ensues or there is a glitch in the design. I was reminded the other day that nothing was ever found wrong with Toyota’s gas pedals yet they had to pay out millions in settlements. How much money could be on the line if an automatic system like this fails?

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