Humans 1, Robots 0: Most Americans wary of self-driving cars, poll shows

Above, a self-driving Ford Fusion hybrid used by Ford Motor and Domino's Pizza to test a self-driving pizza delivery car in Michigan on display during the North American International Auto Show in earlier January. (Reuters)
Updated 29 January 2018
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Humans 1, Robots 0: Most Americans wary of self-driving cars, poll shows

DETROIT/NEW YORK: Two-thirds of Americans are uncomfortable about the idea of riding in self-driving cars, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, underscoring one of many challenges for companies spending billions of dollars on the development of autonomous vehicles.
While 27 percent of respondents said they would feel comfortable riding in a self-driving car, poll data indicated that most people were far more trusting of humans than robots and artificial intelligence under a variety of scenarios.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll found a wide disparity of opinion by gender and age, with men generally more comfortable than women about using self-driving vehicles and millennials more comfortable than baby boomers.
Among men, 38 percent said they would feel comfortable riding in a self-driving car and 55 percent said they would not. Among women, only 16 percent said they would feel comfortable and 77 percent said they would not.
Among those skeptical of driverless cars was California resident Phoebe Barron. “I don’t want to be the first guinea pig,” she said in an interview.
Colorado resident Sonja Coy said she had a more positive view. Self-driving cars “are a great innovation and technology with a lot of potential,” she said.
“However, I’m concerned with how liability will fall in the case of accidents, where there are both self-driving and regular cars on the road,” Coy said.
Like most people, she said she had not yet ridden in a self-driving vehicle. Companies testing the vehicles in the US and elsewhere have provided limited public access so far.
“We’re talking about abstract things that many people have not experienced firsthand,” said Jeremy Carlson, principal automotive analyst with IHS Markit.
Automotive and technology industry executives are pushing US lawmakers to pass legislation that would loosen restrictions on testing and deploying self-driving cars. However, the legislation is currently stalled in the Senate.
In the meantime, companies from General Motorsto Alphabet’s Waymo are planning to deploy the first wave of self-driving vehicles over the next three years.
Industry officials and analysts have said providing convincing reassurances about safety is an urgent task for advocates of autonomous vehicle technology.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted in mid-January and collected responses from 2,592 adults.
Other recent surveys have also highlighted widespread doubts among US consumers about self-driving cars, in the absence of any direct experience with them.


Space station supplies launched, 2nd shipment in 2 days

Updated 17 November 2018
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Space station supplies launched, 2nd shipment in 2 days

  • The International Space Station has received two deliveries in as many days
  • Tuesday marks the 20th anniversary of the space station being in orbit

CAPE CANAVERAL: A load of space station supplies rocketed into orbit from Virginia on Saturday, the second shipment in two days.
Northrop Grumman launched its Antares rocket from Wallops Island before dawn, delighting chilly early-bird observers along the Atlantic coast. The Russian Space Agency launched its own load of supplies to the International Space Station on Friday, just 15 hours earlier.
The US delivery will arrive at the orbiting lab Monday, a day after the Russian shipment. Among the 7,400 pounds (3,350 kilograms) of goods inside the Cygnus capsule: ice cream and fresh fruit for the three space station residents, and a 3D printer that recycles old plastic into new parts.
Thanksgiving turkey dinners — rehydratable, of course — are already aboard the 250-mile-high outpost. The space station is currently home to an American, German and Russian.
There’s another big event coming up, up there: The space station marks its 20th year in orbit on Tuesday. The first section launched on Nov. 20, 1998, from Kazakhstan.
This Cygnus, or Swan, is named the S.S. John Young to honor the legendary astronaut who walked on the moon and commanded the first space shuttle flight. He died in January.
It is the first commercial cargo ship to bear Northrop Grumman’s name. Northrop Grumman acquired Orbital ATK in June. SpaceX is NASA’s other commercial shipper for the space station.
Experiments also are going up to observe how cement solidifies in weightlessness, among other things. There’s also medical, spacesuit and other equipment to replace items that never made it to orbit last month because of a Russian rocket failure; the two men who were riding the rocket survived their emergency landing. Three other astronauts are set to launch from Kazakhstan on Dec. 3.