Autonomous driving technologies as well as the ever evolving (and usually frustrating) infotainment interfaces can be intimidating to some, especially less tech-oriented car buyers.
Ford executive chairman Bill Ford acknowledged during an address at the 2014 Intelligent Transport Systems World Congress in Detroit this week that new technologies that allow cars to communicate with each other and drive autonomously, “may scare some people.”
He also conceded that the idea of relinquishing control to a computerized system can be alarming, if not terrifying, for some drivers. “A lot of this really cool technology … kind of freaks some people out,” Ford said. And he added that car buyers should have a choice on cutting-edge tech. “We believe, at Ford, that opting in is important so people do have that comfort.” And he acknowledged that privacy issues also bring a lot of concerns.
The push towards the development of features that allow cars to automatically apply the brakes when they sense an impending collision or reduce speed because a vehicle ahead has signaled that traffic has slowed is gaining momentum. Google is developing a driverless vehicle sans steering wheel, while GM announced at ITS on Sunday that it will introduce a car that communicates with other vehicles and one that incorporates semi-automated hands-free driving technology by 2017. And, while these features are envisioned to avoid accidents and deaths, “Right now, you have to have eyes on the road, hands on the wheel and it’s going to be that way for a while,” Ford said.
But Ford added that in the future not only will all cars need to be connected, but all forms of transportation will communicate with each other on a single network, and the auto industry must find ways work in unison to have all vehicles work together. “At a certain level, we have to cooperate on a lot of these big issues,” Ford said. “It doesn’t do any good if Fords can only talk to Fords.”
Bill Ford: Automakers must respect drivers who fear new tech features – The Globe and Mail