Public opinion: Autonomous Cars vs Commercial Airlines

The public is just about split right now on travel preference.

In a recent survey, researchers found that for travel less than 11 hours, the majority of people would prefer an autonomous car to a commercial flight.

The common reasons provided being: a lack of comfort or space on an airplane, long lines, long security checks, intrusive security checks, personal food and drink prohibitions, passenger noise, and the need for a rental at the destination.

Self-driving cars solve each of these issues for travelers, as reflected in a 2018 study on traveler preference. (source) For trips over 11 hours, commercial travel remained the prevailing choice by a single digit lead at 55% (commercial) to 45% (self-driving). For trips greater than 45 hours , such as Seattle to Orlando, only 20% of people would want to travel by autonomous car.

“And then it snows and there’s 300 cars in the ditch with people needing to be rescued. ” – random eurodrivers user

That is a common argument against self-driving but based on the fallacy that AI is dumb and static in its capabilities. The fact is, companies driving AI self-driving cars are constantly improving their capabilities. Tesla for example, may send out updates monthly or weekly that improve the AI of their cars. Self-driving cars today aren’t just good, they are better than the majority of human drivers in response time, risk assessment, and risk avoidance. Humans are actually not very good at these things compared to computers.

According to the Department of Transportation, 90% of crashes are the result of human error. (source) Humans get tired, angry, drunk, scared, overwhelmed, but self-driving cars never get tired, angry, frustrated or drunk. 

Self-driving cars never look away from the road, the obstacles, the strategy of getting you to your destination. Autonomous cars are 100% focused.

If you found yourself in inclement weather, rain, snow or ice in an autonomous car, sit back, listen to a book and relax as your car calmly and safely navigates to your destination. Autonomous cars have driven thousands of miles in bad weather, they’ve passed government tests in all conditions, and every day that drivers use AI powered cars they also train those machines to be even better.

The bigger danger for self driving cars comes from the blending of self driving and manual driving. It is expected that at least in America, although not all of the world, manually driven cars will be around for decades. Until, manually driven cars are banned from public road ways self driving cars will need to be programmed to handle and respond to the unpredictability of human behavior on the road. A driver suddenly veering left in a panic when a tire blows and knocking into another car is far more probable than a autonomous car suddenly turning into neighboring commuters.

In a few more decades the entire debate will be forgotten

As personal drone transportation becomes reality in 2020, thanks to Hollywood, Uber, Deloitte and AllianceTexas. People start buying up personal drone transporters, like the Uber Elevate aircraft, for their personal use and the roads suddenly are free of traffic. Millions of AI powered craft take to the skies for work and travel, while users socialize and settle in with a movie after engaging their AI chauffeurs from the Uber App.

The future is looking good, today is too.

You can read the full content of the 2018 survey here.

Posted in AI