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Researchers at U of W Want to Know Whether Passengers Trust Self-Driving Cars
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Autonomous cars are on the way according to all the experts and the manufacturers. They all say the cars will be safer and will reduce congestion. At the estimated price tag of over $100K I doubt that many of us will own our own, so they threaten to completely change the way we use, own, maintain and insure and drive them. The big question, as with all new technology is “will we trust them with our lives and our children’s’ lives?”.

Some researchers at the University of Waterloo are now doing research to find out what we will be comfortable with in terms of the way the cars drive. How aggressively can they drive before we won’t use them or trust them? The project is known as Autonomoose and the team is observing the differences in passenger reactions to tailor the riding experience.

Volunteers are recruited to ride in the cars. Researchers make changes to the ride (more or less aggressive driving) and then measure the comfort level of passengers. Results are used to make changes in rates of acceleration and breaking, distance between vehicles, and braking times in relation to other things/people on the road.

Several measurements are used to gauge the stress in the passengers with sensors measuring involuntary psychological signals, along with heart rate, sweating, and eye movements. It appears that the more passengers ride in the cars the more trusting they become of the vehicle’s capability.

The question remains of how safe the cars will prove to be, and whether the distrust is really a function of change rather than the technology itself. It’s hard to believe that only 100 years ago people were distrustful of cars as the change from horse drawn carriage to automobiles occurred.

Autonomous cars are on the way according to all the experts and the manufacturers. They all say the cars will be safer and will reduce congestion. At the estimated price tag of over $100K I doubt that many of us will own our own, so they threaten to completely change the way we use, own, maintain and insure and drive them. The big question, as with all new technology is “will we trust them with our lives and our children’s’ lives?”.

Some researchers at the University of Waterloo are now doing research to find out what we will be comfortable with in terms of the way the cars drive. How aggressively can they drive before we won’t use them or trust them? The project is known as Autonomoose and the team is observing the differences in passenger reactions to tailor the riding experience.

Volunteers are recruited to ride in the cars. Researchers make changes to the ride (more or less aggressive driving) and then measure the comfort level of passengers. Results are used to make changes in rates of acceleration and breaking, distance between vehicles, and braking times in relation to other things/people on the road.

Several measurements are used to gauge the stress in the passengers with sensors measuring involuntary psychological signals, along with heart rate, sweating, and eye movements. It appears that the more passengers ride in the cars the more trusting they become of the vehicle’s capability.

The question remains of how safe the cars will prove to be, and whether the distrust is really a function of change rather than the technology itself. It’s hard to believe that only 100 years ago people were distrustful of cars as the change from horse drawn carriage to automobiles occurred.

Posted on Thursday, Feb 25, 2021 - 09:00:00 AM EST
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