As self-driving cars become less of a sci-fi future and more of an eventuality, many people are starting to consider whether or not they'd be comfortable letting their trusty Volvo take them to the grocery store.
In this segment from the Industry Focus podcast, Sean O'Reilly and John Rosevear talk about what it will take for the public at large to embrace autonomous cars, based on patterns we've seen in paradigm-shifting tech innovations from the last few decades.
A full transcript follows the video.
This podcast was recorded on Aug. 25, 2016.
Sean O'Reilly: I just returned from visiting my parents in the Midwest. They're actually relatively young, my dad is in his mid-50s. And we're all sitting there at the dinner table, and I said, "Guys, I think this driverless car thing is going to happen in five or ten years. This is going to happen." And my dad just kind of chuckled. He was born in the early '60s, and I don't know if he's just kind of jaded on technological advances or what. But it doesn't seem like the average person still quite knows what's going on with all this.
This begs the question: How popular will this be? Because his next thing was, "I would not ride in these things with my family or children. I would be too nervous." And I was like, "Well..."
John Rosevear: It's hard for most people to relate to this because they haven't seen it yet. We see these big consulting groups, academics, doing these studies, and they find 68% of people -- I'm making this number up, but it's in the vein of recent stuff that's come up -- said they won't try a self-driving car, or whatever. But this is what happens when really ground-breaking new technology is about to come out.
O'Reilly: Ten years ago, people said they'd never...
Rosevear: Yeah. And if you had asked in 2002, "Will you carry a computer in your pocket?" And now we all have iPhones or Android phones that are, effectively, computers in your pocket. Especially where safety is involved, it's going to take some time. People are going to have to see it, they're going to have to experience it, they're going to have to hear from their friends. "I went to San Francisco and rode in an electric Chevrolet that was self-driving, a Lyft car, and it was totally cool, it stopped at all the lights, it was careful in traffic, all by itself! it was really amazing!" And more of these stories come out, and more stories come out, and then 10 years from now there's a button you can push in your Ford F-150 that will drive you home.
O'Reilly: Or come pick me up from work.
Rosevear: Yeah! But I think the way this starts in the consumer world is where it's something you can switch on in your car sometimes. And people start to tinker with it and play with it. And they go to a dinner party and maybe have three glasses of wine and probably shouldn't drive home, and say, "Let's let the car drive." And the car gets them home safe and sound, and it's fine. And they think, "Maybe it can drive me to work tomorrow."
This is how it'll work. People will play with it. There'll be much talk about it. And eventually, and maybe not all that long from now, it'll be a regular thing. Not every car will have it. But it'll be like an iPhone. It'll be technology that we all see and understand, and it's no big deal.