self driving cars

Would you ride in a car without a driver?

#12 | Would you ride in a self-driving car? Yeah, neither would I.  As far as the public at large is concerned, they wouldn’t either. One 2018 survey cited only 21 percent of the public was willing to even try riding in an autonomous vehicle.  I think that’s a BIG problem for a lot of startups and major companies who have already invested a lot of money into the technology.  So, what can they do to convince the public to ride in them? Well, I have a few ideas. Tune in to hear them.

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About the host:

Over the past decade, Jim Stroud has built an expertise in sourcing and recruiting strategy, public speaking, lead generation, video production, podcasting, online research, competitive intelligence, online community management and training. He has consulted for such companies as Microsoft, Google, MCI, Siemens, Bernard Hodes Group and a host of startup companies. During his tenure with Randstad Sourceright, he alleviated the recruitment headaches of their clients worldwide as their Global Head of Sourcing and Recruiting Strategy. His career highlights can be viewed on his website at


Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast.

The path to progress is not always easy. Recently, I read a report from the DailyMail which sounded like a harbinger of things to come. Here’s a quote…

“Police in Arizona have recorded 21 incidents in the past two years concerning vigilante citizens who have hurled rocks, pointed guns at and slashed the tires of Waymo’s autonomous vans. In other cases, people stood in front of the vehicles to prevent them from driving, yelled at them, chased them or forced them off of the road…”

This type of reaction to technology is nothing new. In fact, its been going on for a lot longer than you might think. I’ll explain after this message.

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Imagine you are an Entrepreneur and you produced clothing for various customers around the world. One day, a machine was invented that did the work you performed, and it did it faster and more efficiently than you ever could. And to make matters even more interesting, the cost of using machines was cheaper than the cost of employing highly skilled laborers. Sound familiar? If it does, you might be a student of history because that very thing happened in the 19th century and it sparked a movement – the luddite movement.

The Luddites were 19th-century English textile who protested against newly developed labor-economizing technologies, primarily between the years 1811 and 1816. Inventions like the stocking frames, spinning frames and power looms introduced during the Industrial Revolution threatened to replace the highly skilled luddites with less-skilled, low-wage laborers who could run those machines and thus, leave them without work. The Luddite movement culminated in a region-wide rebellion in Northwestern England that required a massive deployment of military force to suppress.

Fast forward to the year 2015 and taxi drivers all over the world are protesting how Uber and its technology has disrupted their way of life. The backlash of the protesting taxi drivers included fires, arrests and unprecedented civil unrest. If you want to know the details, Google the term “uber riots” and be amazed by how far the disdain for Uber goes in certain countries.

Now fast forward to 2018 when people are attacking Waymo’s autonomous vans. When I read the article, my reflex was to dismiss the concern as neo-luddites fighting the inevitable future. However, as I read more about why the people were attacking the autonomous vehicles, I had to admit to sharing some of their concerns. Here are a few quotes from an article posted by The Next Web.

“One Arizonan, from the city of Chandler, became so fed up with the sight of Waymo‘s vans in his neighborhood that he stood on his lawn pointing a pistol at the human safety driver inside of one as it passed his home. He told police he wanted the person in the car to be afraid, presumably to send the message that self-driving cars aren’t welcome. He’s one of dozens of citizens (on record) who’ve engaged in wildly dangerous acts provoked by, apparently, nothing more than the idea of a car driving itself.”

Here’s another one…

“People have thrown rocks at Waymos. The tire on one was slashed while it was stopped in traffic. The vehicles have been yelled at, chased and one Jeep was responsible for forcing the vans off roads six times.”

And one more…

“Why are people so angry at self-driving cars? After all, none of the reported incidents we’ve seen indicate the people attacking machines and harassing their human safety drivers are experiencing road rage. It doesn’t appear as though anyone got cut off by a robot, or got tailgated, or had one sitting at a green light in front of them. It seems the existential threat that driverless cars represent is the sole catalyst for these outbursts.”

As I read deeper into the article and others like it, the resentment was not that the autonomous vehicles were taking people’s jobs away. It was primarily a safety concern. In March 2018, Elaine Herzberg was killed by a self-driving Uber vehicle and no one wants to see that history repeat itself. I get it. It is a very real concern. So, what can be done about it? What can car companies do to make the general public feel better about autonomous vehicles? Well, I have a few ideas…

“The Society of Risk Analysis” published a report in the Risk Analysis journal which sought to determine how safe is safe enough for self-driving vehicles to be accepted by the general public. According to their research, the answer is approximately four to five times as safe as human-driven vehicles. So, how do you do that?

Let’s say that all autonomous vehicles must be linked to a big brain in the sky that records every accident and every fatality caused by an autonomous vehicle. Once that incident is recorded, everybody sees what happened and every variable that contributed to the accident (weather conditions, human beings not paying attention, whatever). As soon as new data hits the system, a community of scientists works on a solution and programs that solution into all autonomous vehicles so the same accident, under the same conditions will not happen again. Furthermore, inside the autonomous vehicle is data detailing how many days since a fatality was caused by an autonomous vehicles. That data would be or should be, accessible to people before and after they ride in an autonomous vehicle; all so that they can feel empowered to make a decision that’s best for them. Make sense? Maybe not. I’m curious. How would you make autonomous vehicles safer?

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