BMW Works With Psychologists to Teach Self-Driving Car Manners

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No, not a name to rival Florence and the Machine, but rather just how BMW are employing the help of psychologists to help their brand work with self-driving cars.
BMW board director Peter Schwarzenbauer believes that the biggest problems facing the use of autonomous vehicles won’t come from the technology or even legal aspects, rather the psychological.

“How do we make humans feel safe when driven by a robot? In what is effectively, a robot”

That’s a very good question, and for those of you that have ever played the ‘How long can I keep my hands off the steering wheel?’ game, you’ll know exactly what he’s talking about.
The thought of stepping into a vehicle and having no control over it is completely alien to us; since the very first powered transport has been used right up until today’s technology, one thing has remained constant – the organic lump behind the controls.

This is why BMW are now working with a team of psychologists to better understand just how their autonomous vehicles can build a relationship with the occupants to better reassure them. And the initial findings are just that; it’s about building a relationship.

Perhaps for many people, the trust will only come as they rack up the mileage, as the old saying goes – familiarity breeds contempt. This would mean that only time behind the wheel (so to speak) completely accident free will give the self-driving car buyers the confidence that they can travel without incident, and it isn’t so much the actual thought of an incident, but the fact that they wouldn’t be able to relax behind the wheel – constantly trying to grab the wheel or push the brake pedal when the car doesn’t respond exactly as they would – surely, we’ve all been that passenger in the car trying to pump the non-existent brake pedal on the passenger side when the driver gets a little too close to being in a collision.

So what do BMW hope to achieve?

If BMW can crack the feeling of ill-ease when using a self-driving car, then surely they are on the way to dominating the market? The novelty of these cars is currently driving sales, but when the novelty wears off, the reality is the only thing left, and if that reality doesn’t sit comfortably, they’ll lose sales, however strong their branding is.

What do you think about autonomous driving? Is it something that you’re looking forward to?

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