Some of the self-driving industry’s heaviest hitters recently came together to form a group designed to teach the public about the burgeoning technology of autonomous cars.
Called the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education, or PAVE campaign for short, the coalition includes boldface names like Toyota, Volkswagen, and GM and was announced early January at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The goal, according to the group, is to “inform the public” about the new-age rides so the world at large can “fully participate in shaping the future of transportation.” It says its aim is “purely educational,” with no one particular technology getting its endorsement.
And, by all accounts, the public could use the study guide.
A 2017 survey administered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) noted that a sizeable number of consumers are outright confused by the sheer amount of terms for autonomous tech, which not only differ drastically by name, brand, and model but also often fail to shed any light on the actual capabilities of the car’s self-driving system.
And the issue isn’t just annoying—it can be downright dangerous.
Overreliance on Autopilot mode was officially deemed partly responsible for the death of a Tesla test driver in 2016—the first fatal incident involving an autonomous or semi-autonomous ride. And the tech was also behind a bout of deadly accidents last spring, with the incessant negative headlines potentially powering a waning public interest in the vehicles—which, if left unchecked, could further perpetuate the general lack of knowledge about the cars.
To help solve the problem, the PAVE campaign will be taking its products to the streets. The group has announced plans to host a series of events and workshops to “demystify” the autos by bringing them directly to the people in hopes that the more exposure people have to them, the more comfortable they’ll be with the concept.
The PAVE campaign also includes a number of facts, videos, and other resources on its website, and says its aim is not just to help teach the public about the potential benefits of self-driving cars, but teach policymakers, as well.
Considering that the clock ran out this January 1st on a piece of would-be national legislation dictating how the autos should be tested and used, the educational gesture may be coming a little too late for lawmakers. But PAVE participants are hoping its eventual impact will be anything but too little.