Dec 20, 2019

Assisted-driving systems can lead to complacency behind the wheel

A man using a phone while driving. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The more drivers use assisted-driving systems, the more comfortable they become with the technology — and the more likely they are to misuse it, according to new research from AAA and Virginia Tech.

What they found: After becoming accustomed to driving with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), like adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assist, drivers were nearly twice as likely to engage in distracted driving behavior (texting, adjusting the radio) compared to when they were driving without the systems.

  • Conversely, drivers less familiar with the technology paid closer attention when the systems were turned on than when they were off.

"This new research suggests that as drivers gain more experience using ADAS technology, they could develop complacency while behind the wheel," said David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "Over-reliance on these systems can put drivers and others in dangerous conditions during critical moments."

Virginia Tech researchers compare the risks of learning to trust ADAS technology to other industries.

  • Pilots and nuclear technicians demonstrate similar patterns of over-reliance on automated systems, which can eventually lead to distraction.

The bottom line: Getting people to trust ADAS technology — without over-relying on it — is going to require concerted education efforts.

Go deeper: Modern cars are testing the limits of their computer hardware

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Keeping expectations for self-driving cars in check

Argo AI CEO Bryan Salesky. Photo: Courtesy of Argo AI

The rollout of self-driving cars is happening as it should — gradually and safely — Bryan Salesky, CEO of Argo AI, a leading developer of automated driving technology, tells Axios.

The big picture: Self-driving vehicles could help improve safety, reduce traffic congestion and improve access to transportation for many, but those benefits will come slowly and as part of a larger transportation system, Salesky said.

Go deeperArrowDec 20, 2019

Uber rolls out changes to California ride-hailing in wake of new law

Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images

Uber is rolling out a number of changes to its ride-hailing service in California due to a new state law with stricter requirements to classify a worker as an independent contractor, according to a new customer email.

Why it matters: Uber has said it doesn't believe the law will force it to reclassify drivers because its core business is technology, not transportation, but it's unsurprising the company is taking steps to give (in practice and appearance) more autonomy to its drivers to protect itself.

Go deeperArrowJan 8, 2020

Ride-sharing of the future

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Auto companies, counterintuitively, are trying to get people to give up their cars — by making shared transportation more appealing with vehicles that recognize you, anticipate your needs and customize your ride.

Why it matters: Ride-hailing apps are making urban congestion steadily worse. In San Francisco, people spent 62% more time sitting in traffic in 2016 than in 2010. Uber and Lyft admitted they're part of the problem.

Go deeperArrowJan 3, 2020