|Tesla from Gao Yaning's Fatal Crash|
The Autopilot feature, which debuted for consumers October of last year, has faced great amounts of backlash for its presumptively hands-off name and assumed lack of development time before being released to the public.
With the Autopilot feature having now been available for use on public roads, it has seen much blame for enabling inattentive drivers and simply not having the decision making capabilities that a human has in tricky situations on the road. Yet still, Tesla persists that the feature is road-ready and hopes that Autopilot is not seen as the root cause of the number of accidents seen increasingly in the past few number of months.
Tesla Reacts with Greater Limits on Driver Attentiveness While in Autopilot
In spite of the ongoing incidents, Tesla has not been inactive in their development and concern over Autopilot. Numerous updates to Autopilot's logic and improved use of radar have been released and within the last month, Tesla has implemented a feature lock-out for inattentive drivers.
|Current User Interface for Tesla's Autopilot|
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has been quoted saying that the newest updates to Autopilot "very likely" could have saved the life of Joshua Brown, whom died when his Autopilot enabled vehicle crashed into a truck in Florida.
Although Musk believes that "perfect safety is an impossible goal," the steps currently being made by the company seem to reflect steps toward ensuring greater driver safety while in Autopilot compared to without it.
Public Opinion on Self-Driving Cars Widely Divided
As controversies wage, consumers are still split on a number of issues and concerns relating to owning a self driving car. Of college students (an incredibly important market self-driving cars will have when technology further develops and price is negligible) interviewed on the University of Maryland campus, 4 out of 5 students expressed disinterest in buying a self-driving car.
Among the most common cited reasons for disinterest in a self-driving vehicle was the experience of being in control of the vehicle and the enjoyment derived from driving.
However, some did express interest in owning a self-driving car as it would increase convenience and remove personal liability from life-or-death decision making.
While the future benefits and possibilities seem to be understood, a minority of young adults appear to be interested in being the first generation to let software do their driving.
Moving to a broader audience, a 2014 study by Daniel Howard and Danielle Dai at the University of California - Berkeley showed opinions on the current reliability, practicality, and eligibility of self-diving cars on public roads are heavily split. In their study, 46% of participants believed that self-driving cars should operate with normal traffic, 35% supported separate lanes/road networks for autonomous driving and 22% opposed integration or vehicle segregation all together. How self-driving cars will enter the market as a wholly prominent technology, especially considering new developments, legislation, and current events, will presumably be widely seen in the near future.