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.


Alphabet unveils vision for high-tech Toronto waterfront project

The downtown skyline and CN Tower are seen past the eastern waterfront area envisioned by Alphabet Inc's Sidewalk Labs as a new technical hub in the Port Lands district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada April 3, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 25 June 2019
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Alphabet unveils vision for high-tech Toronto waterfront project

  • If the Can$3.9 billion ($2.96 billion) development goes ahead, tens of thousands of people are expected to live and work in the district, where tall buildings would be made out of timber

OTTAWA: Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google parent-company Alphabet Inc., on Monday officially unveiled its plan for a massive technology-driven neighborhood on Toronto’s waterfront that it hopes will become a blueprint for the future, but which has already generated controversy.
The 1,500-page master plan covers a 4.8-hectare (12-acre) parcel on the eastern shore of the city’s harbor. The Lake Ontario site would merge sustainable design with new technologies, such as trash-picking robots, sensors that measure pedestrians’ gait, sidewalks that melt snow and street-side parking that can be pre-booked.
But, in an era of global concern over data protection at tech firms, the proposal has been criticized for concerns over loss of privacy, and the handing over of control of public spaces to a private corporation.
The city, Ontario and federal governments, which have partnered with the New York-based urban planning firm on the project, would have to approve the proposal.
If the Can$3.9 billion ($2.96 billion) development goes ahead, tens of thousands of people are expected to live and work in the district, where tall buildings would be made out of timber.
Sidewalk Labs said it could be expanded to cover more than 77 hectares.
The aim, Sidewalk CEO Dan Doctoroff told reporters, is to “create the neighborhood of the future... with people at its center, and with cutting-edge technology and forward-thinking urban design combining to achieve ambitious improvements in the urban environment and in the way we all live.”
Public consultations will be held over the coming months.