Inside Unmanned Systems

OCT-NOV 2017

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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LETTER WASHINGTON VIEW by DEE ANN DIVIS 67 unmanned systems inside October/November 2017 Safety-related concerns—including software problems and hackers, as well as poor vehicle communication and worries about interactions with regular vehicles—were the most cited bar- riers to HAV adoption the KBB study found. Being able to prove the technology was safe was one of the two most important factors in deciding to shift to a driverless car (the other being price). Those surveyed were U.S. residents and the sample was weighted for age, gender, ethnicity and region. The results were released in September of 2016. The KBB survey, however, was conducted on- line in May 2016—about a month before Tesla disclosed that a driver was killed in a crash while using the self-driving features of his car. Though the driver was later found to be overly reliant on the technology, the crash highlighted the risks of automated driving—including, per- haps, the risk of not paying enough attention. A study conducted in 2016, and then repeated in 2017 by MIT's AgeLab, underscores the risk. Consumer Confi dence The researchers found that drivers across all age groups were more interested in driver- assist technologies than they were the year be- fore. They also reported in their white paper, Consumer Interest in Automation: Preliminary Observations Exploring a Year's Change, that respondents largely remained as interested in Level 4 automation—that is the highest possible level of automation they could have without giv- ing up control entirely. Many of those surveyed, however, had lost interest in full automation. "Comfort or trust in full automation appears to be declining," the AgeLab reported (see Age Differences in Willingness to Use Automation in Vehicles: Maximum Level of Automation, page 65) "While the shift away from trust in automation was observed across all age groups, it was particularly noteworthy in the younger half of the age ranges: this was the demographic that was most open to automation a year ago." This falloff, especially among the young, is consistent with findings from a nationally rep- resentative survey done by J.D. Power and re- leased in April of this year. "Compared with 2016, 11 percent more Gen Z consumers and 9 percent more Pre-Boomers say they 'definitely would not' trust automated technology," J.D. Power said in a statement. What people want is safety, J.D Power found, with consumers most enamored of collision protection and driving assistance technology. "Six of the top 10 features that consumers were most interested in before learning the price— smart headlights, camera rear-view mirror, emergency braking and steering system, lane change assist, camera side-view mirrors and advanced windshield display—come from these two categories," according to the firm. Success Through Safety? The challenge, then, for those who support HAV is to enable the technology to develop at its own pace while earning the confidence of the pub- lic. But the course for autonomous vehicles that regulators and lawmakers are mapping out ap- pears to ease safety protections to speed innova- tion. The recent guidance issued to automakers by NHTSA, for example, stressed the voluntary nature of compliance. The exemptions being considered by Congress could put millions of driverless cars on the road to be experienced by a public that has already become more cautious after just one highly publicized accident. "In most cases, as technology concepts get closer to becoming reality, consumer curiosity and accep- tance increase," said Kristin Kolodge, executive di- rector of driver interaction and HMI research at J.D. Power. "With autonomous vehicles, we see a pattern where trust drives interest in the technol- ogy and right now, the level of trust is declining." Some lawmakers are calling for a cautious ap- proach as a way to protect the technology's future. "I think we have to be very, very careful," Frank Pallone, D-New Jersey, told his colleagues during a hearing on the House bill. "SO THE HEADLINE TOMORROW WOULD READ 'SENATE MANDATES DRIVERS IN DRIVERLESS CARS.' I DON'T THINK THAT'S THE THING WE WANT COMING OUT OF THIS HEARING." Sen. John Thune, chairman, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

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