By some estimates, we should have been relaxing in our autonomous cars by now. But that dream keeps getting pushed back, and Fast Company says they know why: Basic human nature.
Developers tend to assume that people can “partially” pay attention while using a “semiautonomous” car. Levels 2-4 describe certain amounts of autonomy that the vehicles can achieve, but always with the caveat that the driver needs to be ready to take control.
But people don’t behave that way in the car. They either they pay attention, or they don’t. In fact, test drivers of various autonomous vehicles have told me that it’s actually harder for a human to remain ready to take control than it is for them to fully control the vehicle.
The article explains that human reaction time isn’t good enough to wrest control away from a computer quickly enough to avoid accidents, which has made almost-autonomous vehicles–an anticipated stepping stone to full autonomous driving–nearly impossible.