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.


SpaceX’s first private passenger is Japanese fashion magnate Maezawa

This artist's illustration courtesy of SpaceX obtained September 17, 2018, shows the SpaceX BFR(Big Falcon Rocket)rocket passenger spacecraft. SpaceX is to reveal on September 17, 2018 the identity of the first person it plans to transport around the Moon in an ambitious project financed entirely by its eccentric CEO Elon Musk. (AFP)
Updated 18 September 2018
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SpaceX’s first private passenger is Japanese fashion magnate Maezawa

  • SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world
  • SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets

HAWTHORNE, California: SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space transportation company, on Monday named its first private passenger as Japanese businessman Yusaku Maezawa, the founder and chief executive of online fashion retailer Zozo.
A former drummer in a punk band, billionaire Maezawa will will take a trip around the moon aboard its forthcoming Big Falcon Rocket spaceship, taking the race to commercialize space travel to new heights.
The first passenger to travel to the moon since the United States’ Apollo missions ended in 1972, Maezawa’s identity was revealed at an event Monday evening at the company’s headquarters and rocket factory in the Los Angeles suburb of Hawthorne.
In moves typical of his publicity-seeking style, Musk, who is also the billionaire chief executive of electric car maker Tesla Inc, had previously teased a few tantalizing details about the trip and the passenger’s identity, but left major questions unanswered.
On Thursday, Musk tweeted a picture of a Japanese flag. He followed that up on Sunday with tweets showing new artist renderings of the Big Falcon Rocket, or BFR, the super heavy-lift launch vehicle that Musk promises will shuttle the passenger to the moon and eventually fly humans and cargo to Mars, using the hashtag #OccupyMars.
While the BFR has not been built yet, Musk has said he wants the rocket to be ready for an unpiloted trip to Mars in 2022, with a crewed flight in 2024, though his ambitious production targets have been known to slip.
SpaceX plans a lunar orbit mission. It was not clear how much Maezawa paid for the trip.
Maezawa made his fortune by founding the wildly popular shopping site Zozotown. His company Zozo, officially called Start Today Co. Ltd, also offers a made-to-measure service using a polka dot bodysuit, the Zozosuit..
With SpaceX, Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and entrepreneur Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic battling it out to launch private-sector spacecraft, the SpaceX passenger will join a growing list of celebrities and the ultra-rich who have secured seats on flights offered on the under-development vessels.
Those who have signed up to fly on Virgin Galactic sub-orbital missions include actor Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Justin Bieber. A 90-minute flight costs $250,000.
Short sightseeing trips to space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket are likely to cost around $200,000 to $300,000, at least to start, Reuters reported in July.
SpaceX has already upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost reusable Falcon 9 rockets. The company has completed more than 50 successful Falcon launches and snagged billions of dollars’ worth of contracts, including deals with NASA and the US Department of Defense.
SpaceX in February transfixed a global audience with the successful test launch of its Falcon Heavy, the most powerful operational rocket in the world.
SpaceX previously announced plans to eventually use Falcon Heavy to launch paying space tourists on a trip around the moon, but Musk said in February he was inclined to reserve that mission for the BFR.