People expect drivers to stop for them at pedestrian crossings, but what if they know autonomous vehicles will stop any time someone chooses to step in front of them?
Globally, road crashes kill 1.3 million people a year and injure nearly 50 million more. Autonomous vehicles (AVs) have been identified as a potential solution to this issue if they can learn to identify and avoid situations leading to crashes.
Unlike human drivers, these vehicles won’t get tired, drive drunk, look at their phone, or speed. What’s more, AVs will reduce congestion and pollution, increase access to public transport, be cheaper, improve mobility for people with disabilities, and make transport fun again. Right?
Rightly or wrongly, billions of dollars are being poured into autonomous vehicle research and development to pursue this autopia. However, barely any resource or thought is being given to the question of how humans will ultimately respond to the AV fleet. In a city full of autonomous cars, how might our behaviour and use of city streets change?
In one scenario, people could act on the knowledge that these vehicles will stop any time someone chooses to step in front of them, bringing traffic to a halt.