PEBCAK

Driverless Cars Will Get Bullied

By Russ Mitchell

The interest in self-driving cars seems to fluctuate wildly, and the CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA says he knows why. It’s not the technology, the market, or even insurance or liability issues, he claims. He says the biggest issue will be humans, and specifically that they will bully driverless cars they encounter out on the open road.

Russ Mitchell writes, “Dietmar Exler, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz USA, is often asked why it’s taking so long to develop self-driving cars.

“It’s not technology, he tells them. That’s advancing fast.

“It’s not insurance and liability issues. ‘I do believe in lawyers,’ he said. ‘I’m a lawyer myself. We will solve these issues out.’

“It’s not customer acceptance. As soon as someone rides in a car that can drive itself in bumper-to-bumper traffic, a convert is created, he said. ‘Who would argue that it’s fun to be out on the 10 between 5 and 6 p.m. on a weekday?

“‘The real issue,’ he said, ‘is humans.’

“The coexistence of human drivers and robot cars, to be precise. It’s not clear yet how well that will go.

“Speaking at AutoConference LA, an event that runs at the same time as the L.A. Auto Show and that is co-hosted by J.D. Power and the National Automobile Dealers Assn., Exler said even if completely driverless cars were available now, they’d be sharing the road with traditional cars for 20 to 25 years.

“Some people are afraid of robots taking over. Exler is worried that humans will ‘bully’ driverless cars.”

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