Daimler CEO Says Boeing Safety Probe Is Indicative Of Challenges Awaiting Autonomous Cars

Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche went on the record as saying that the investigation into Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft is indicative of how hard it would be for the public to accept self-driving car technology in case of a major incident.

Regulators were forced to ground the 737 MAX pending an investigation into whether it was Boeing’s software-based automated flight control system that caused two deadly crashes in the span of five months. According to Zetsche, this reflects poorly on autonomous cars.

“What is very important is the psychological dimension. If you look at what is happening with Boeing then you can imagine what happens when such a system has an accident,” he said with regards to the car industry’s continuous efforts to develop fully autonomous vehicles.

He then added that the industry should launch these systems in stages, as a way to build acceptance in the eyes of the public, reports Autonews Europe.

“Even if autonomous cars are 10 times safer than those driven by humans, it takes one spectacular incident to make it much harder to win widespread acceptance.”

Speaking of acceptance, a recent survey conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA), revealed that 71% of people questioned (1,008 interviews) are afraid to ride in fully autonomous vehicles. While this type of general feeling might change, it definitely won’t happen over night, so until then, interacting with semi-autonomous tech might actually be the best way to gain full acceptance.

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  • Craig

    I agree with Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche. I said it YEARS ago. Start with freeway only – HOV lane type autonomous travel. And work your way slowly from there. Fact is – we will NEVER ACTUALLY NEED autonomous vehicles. Anymore than we NEED a dishwasher. Fact is… if your dishwasher broke just ONE plate every time you used it – you would soon be washing by hand.

    • Bash

      Amen to that, we use ours 2 times a day, sometimes 3 every few days and if it break one dish on a monthly basis, I’ll call it a no no.

      • exeptor

        Still hand-washing. We have a dishwasher but there is something quite restful (almost sedative) if you take your time to clean the dishes/glasses very good and put them in a perfect order on the dryer. It is important to mention that I’m not the type of guy who put a value on each minute using cliches like “time is money”.

        As for the article – yep, he is right. Changes of that scale – almost revolutionary, do not comes without price. Just hope to get lucky and not be a part of the statistics.

  • TheBelltower

    “71% of people questioned (1,008 interviews) are afraid to ride in fully autonomous vehicles.”

    Not surprising. In 1900, people were afraid to get into automatic elevators that didn’t include an operator. It’s going to take some getting used to.

    • I am no luddite, however humans in time immemorial have a nasty habit of embracing technological advances without fully assessing the societal impacts these changes will bring. That is until a robot shows up to take your job, commit mass murder or screw your wife.

  • HAL 9000 does not approve of this article or Dieter’s comment. Killer drones have been dispatched. Skynet lives!!!

  • LJ

    I’d say dying is a pretty important psychological dimension.

  • Elmediterraneo

    I trust Mercedes-Benz for autonomous driving they’ve invented the car so they’ll know how to do it right ! 🇩🇪 💪

    • Bash

      Wow. That’s serious confidence right there.

  • Kagiso Mutlaneng

    well if they decide to be like Boeing, and sell safety features as optional extras, then you will be in the same boat. :/

    Include such safety features as standard, and you’ll be fine (granted, Mercedes tends to add a lot of safety features as standard, it is the lack of regulation on this bit for ALL car makers that could cause issues).

  • You obviously are lacking in reading comprehension skills and understand the English language. I used a metaphor. Anyway, I digress. Robots/AI has been replacing people in droves the past 40 years. With AI, that’s being accelerated. Hospitals are hiring less Radiology doctors, because AI software can read thousand of images in a second; law firms are hiring less lawyers because software can read millions of pages of law briefs in seconds; Tens of millions of people’s jobs and industries that support truck drivers will evaporate when commercial driverless trucks hit the road in a few years. Don’t be a Derp.

  • Dude

    Public acceptance should not be the concern of the companies creating these technologies. These safety systems vastly improve the safety of driving and that is a fact. Governments should and will be making these systems mandatory for that reason.

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