Self-driving Cars: Why We Can’t Leave the Driver Behind | John Nielsen | TEDxWilmingtonSalon

Self-driving Cars: Why We Can’t Leave the Driver Behind | John Nielsen | TEDxWilmingtonSalon


well I have a confession to make and that’s that I am a car nerd I’ve been a car nerd all my life when I was 12 years old I read every car magazine that I could find and I memorized the zero to sixty times of every car in there and the braking times and the tire sizes and I could recall them it will ask him ask me a question I had the answer and I did it for years after years after years could tell you all the changes I was fascinated I also became fascinated in engines and combustion and I had access to technical papers before I went into high school and I studied to where I could describe the difference between detonation and pre-ignition in the combustion process now how many of y’all think back to your high school years how many had a conversation about the differences in detonation in pre-ignition in the combustion cycle okay it’s like I thought zero me too but I was prepared and and the truth is that that I went on I realized if I wanted any kind of social life I would need to talk about more than cars and have a broader a broader repertoire and the truth is I really work to do that but in my heart what I love and who I am and where my passion is is around cars so you’ll understand why I think I have the absolute best job in the world as the managing director of triple A’s automotive engineering effort I have a chance to drive one or two new cars a week equipped with all the latest bells and whistles the coolest stuff you can get on a car it’s really awesome I have a chance to take cars to a racetrack or a test facility and test one against another or test multiple cars against each other just and and not just to rank one better than the other but to begin to get an understanding of how they work why they work why they do what they do inform opinions that I can share with motorists so they have an unbiased point of view on what cars can do and they can get the most out of their car in that role I was recently driving a Volvo xc90 now I want to tell you a couple of things about this car the first is it’s one of the five or six best cars that have level 2 autonomous technology that you can buy today and level 2 means that the driver needs to be fully engaged in the driving process have to keep your hands on your wheel eyes on the road it’s not that the George Jetson stuff of you know you can read a book watch a video go to sleep while the car drives itself that’ll happen someday not today the Volvo does all the tricks great it can with the driver engaged it will accelerate and break it’ll turn keep you from hitting the lines in the road where it really shines is when things surprise you so maybe a car pulls out unexpectedly or a pedestrian steps out in front of the car the Volvo is just tremendous at tightening up the seatbelt and stopping very quickly better than we can as humans but the thing that stood out to me the most might be counterintuitive to you and that’s that that the car really knew its limitations there is a particular road that I try to drive cars on that have the ability to self-center in the lane or or help avoid collisions and if you can envision a road with a long sweeping left-hand turn and right in the middle of that turn it opens up to to turn lanes a left and right turn lane now cars that have this technology use cameras to look at the road to figure out where they are spatially in the road so as long as you have lines things are pretty good well take those lines away and things start to be a challenge and then add something like a car setting in one of those lanes and the radar is shooting out saying the camera sees something the radar says it’s close you’re closing on it cars really challenged in this circumstance and to me this is what I look for because cars with this technology do great 99% of the time it’s that just sliver over time that they have some challenges and that’s what I seek to find and in this car which stood out to me is this that it knew its limitations it saw the roadway it let me know there was a problem quickly it very seamlessly handed control back over to me and kept things safe and that gave me comfort because if it knows its limitations then it knows when it can what I should be doing the driving and it knows when it’s capable of doing felt really good about that so as you might imagine I’m really an advocate for this I think there’s tremendous potential in in level 1 and level 2 autonomy and moving long term to level 3 and 4 but but the truth is is that not all motorists are there triple-eight conducted research and found that 90% of drivers are afraid to share the road with an autonomous car and 80% of motorists are afraid to ride in a car that has autonomous technology Wow and there are actually people that have collision avoidance and Lane centering lane-keeping ability that are turning it off in their car they have the technology and they’re turning it off that’s a real problem so time for a little bit more insight some additional research turned up driver attitudes towards this stuff and while the scope was pretty large i’ll categorize them as really three categories there are drivers that just don’t think about it you know what they probably peripherally know that there’s autonomous cars out there and they probably heard something maybe good maybe bad in the grand scheme of things it’s not very important to them there’s another category of people that maybe they know a little bit about it but in that moment of truth when they’re buying a car see when you check that box that says yep I want lane-keeping assistance that I want collision avoidance and all those other things there’s actually a price tag associated with it might be three thousand dollars or six thousand dollars but at that moment of truth they decide it’s not worth it and there’s a third category of people and those are people that say you know what cool stuff just not for me it’s for the other drivers well let’s take a look at that I’d like to highlight some differences between human drivers and what cars are capable of they’ve designed properly the easiest way to do that is to look at reaction time so when you think about something that surprises you in the roadway by the time you see it process what you need to do about it decide how you’re gonna respond and then let’s say move your foot from the gas pedal to the brake in round numbers that’s going to take a second and a half so let me put some perspective on one and a half seconds one and a half seconds at 65 miles an hour think of a tractor trailer now think of three tractor trailers end-to-end that’s how far you’ll travel in a second and a half at 65 miles an hour now let’s think about how the car responds to it from the time the car senses a problem processes that it needs to do something and starts to apply the brakes is about eight hundredths of a second in eight hundreds of a second at 65 miles an hour you travel about eight or nine feet so maybe just a little bit further than I am tall in my mind the potential of this technology is tremendous but not everybody feels the same way so we can think of what is an average driver let’s think about that in a different sense there’s a term called illusory superiority and psychologists would say that we all think we’re just a little bit better than average so if you ask a group of people are you good driver average driver worse than average almost everybody’s a little bit better than average maybe a lot better than average okay and we know average means half or better and half or worse right but people overestimate their capabilities I’d like to share with you some of the folks that I work with a team of dedicated individuals of scientists and engineers that really do most of the work and make so much of what we do possible these individuals I think would say that they’re better than average drivers but I might there’s a little bit more going on here two of the individuals on the screen have NHRA which is the Hot Rod Association drag racing licenses one of them has Sports Car Club of America a road racing license so they’re really pretty good drivers to make my point I’d like to share a video and as this video plays the one thing I’d like you to do there’s gonna be a dragster in the car in the in the video like you look at the light right in front of the left front tire when that light goes from yellow to green that’s when they have to accelerate and really what determines a winning race besides a good car is a driver that can respond quickly so let’s take a quick look at this video [Music] [Applause] [Music] so very cool reaction time three hundredths of a second that’s a whole lot better than average top speed about 272 miles an hour now the individual driving that was the lady on the left-hand side of the screen meganlocke earning that’s her Top Alcohol dragster and and it is an impressive sight I would tell you her reactions are faster than average she’s certainly a better driver than I am so we have a great staff a great pool of people that we work with in multiple locations and so we challenge them kind of a fun challenge there are cars out there that can park themselves they can parallel park themselves so wouldn’t it be interesting to see if better-than-average drivers whether they’re proven better than average or whether they’re self-proclaimed could beat a car at parking itself so we picked five cars five drivers each driver tried five times each car tried five times and will figure out what we come up with the truth is in the end of the test the winner was able to park a car ten percent faster was able to park 37 percent closer to the curb had 47% fewer moves and did it with 81 percent fewer curb strikes they hit the curb a whole lot less yeah it was the car the car beat are better than average drivers and I go through this story because it’s important to note that the potential for a car to really do good is there and it’s critically important that we think about that because last year there were 37,000 people that died on the roadway and motor accidents that’s up 14% from the year before these numbers are increasing and it’s estimated that 94 percent of those accidents were due to human error so if we could there was something in a car that could help us be more safe and keep the people we love and care about safe who wouldn’t want that be a great opportunity cars are increasingly complex in the cockpit there’s more to learn they’re distracting more than ever we need this type of assistance so the question really comes up so what do we do where do we go I don’t think anybody could disagree technology is there the need is there I think there are three actions we can take the first is really simple and that’s help people understand what we’re talking about you know today there’s terms like Intel a safe and eyesight and supercruise which are really cool brand names but they don’t tell you a whole lot about what to expect from the car what if we were just a little bit more clear about it and said you know what this car will help you help prevent an accident and it’ll do it in a certain way but if it said we can help you avoid a collision with a pedestrian some can some can but by managing those expectations we set people up to enjoy the experience to understand what their cars can do what they need to do to make it happen what’s their role in all of this and and they’re not disappointed when their cars actually work the second thing we need to do is create advocates so we don’t need everybody sitting around the Sunday dinner table talking about sensor fusion and light our on a chip what we need to do is get the innovators in the early adaptors to engage with this understand what’s going on and turn them into champions that communicate to the broader audience about the good things that this technology can do and the third thing is we need to educate consumers and engage consumers in their cars and we need to do this in a broad scope of things whether it be stuff in the cockpit or self-driving features autonomous features but but you know you could say well it’s in the owners manual why not take a look owners manuals today or this thick and I can promise you I read a lot of them because they’re entertaining right but but but it’s hard to figure out what it is and what it’s supposed to do and now oftentimes it’s not even in a book anymore it’s on a DVD maybe on the internet there are actually cars today that use odd in reality to help the owner understand how to use the features of their car this is complex stuff so putting it in a book or putting it online people aren’t reading it so let’s take a new look I recently bought a piece of technology and when I bought it they they this isn’t a big stretch on where I went but they actually sat down and showed me how to use it they updated all the material they showed me how to use it they asked me some questions about what I specifically did with it and then gave me some tips on how to use it better that was four thousand dollar piece of technology couldn’t we do that with a car that cost thirty or fifty or sixty thousand dollars maybe that’s not the model maybe it’s not set down maybe what we need to do is think of something like a Geek Squad where somebody would come to you and help you and your family understand how to get the most out of your car how to use it how to use it safely how to contrast that with other vehicles you have maybe that’s the model and there’s a third model maybe maybe that is we don’t need to do books at all we need to move towards gamification so make it interesting to read an owner’s manual I want to see that that is way cool but but the truth is is that the way we’re doing it now isn’t working so we need to do something better so I’m going to take my hat off for just a second as a car nerd okay I’m going to talk to you as a husband and a father and a friend and a neighbor 37,000 deaths it’s unacceptable we can do better than that so if you agree with me I’ve given you three ideas that we can move forward on if you agree let’s get going let’s do it if you have better ideas let’s have a discussion but let’s not stay where we are because if we don’t bring the driver along with technology and engage them and what’s happening they’re not going to be with us they’re not going to help us implement the potential of this technology there’s ultimately no ride without the driver thank you so much you [Applause]


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