Are Self-Driving Cars Really Safe?

A recent collision involving a self-driving Volvo SUV run by Uber and a woman driving a Honda CRV in Tempe, Arizona brought to light the potential dangers in self-driving vehicles.

The woman driving the Honda was cited for failing to yield the right of way, but the question remains: are self-driving vehicles inherently dangerous? While self-driving vehicles could improve the mobility of people who don’t or can’t currently drive, there are larger questions to consider. Do we really want vehicles that rely on cameras and advanced GPS systems sharing our roads and highways with us as we commute to work and school every day? And what about the autonomous driving option in our own cars and trucks, which is sure to happen in the coming years. Can we trust ourselves to use this new tech feature safely when many of us already can’t resist the urge to text and drive right now?

Here are some dangers of self-driving vehicles to consider, according to a Yahoo Finance article.

SDV passengers can expect to get more motion sickness.

As much as 37 percent of adult passengers in self-driving vehicles will experience an increase in the frequency and severity of motion sickness, according to a study published by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. The reasons: People in self-driving vehicles will be reading, texting, watching movies, working or playing video games in the vehicle instead of driving and focusing on the road ahead.

Road safety and accident rates will likely worsen before improving.

When self-driving vehicles start sharing the roads with conventional people-driven vehicles in greater numbers in the years to come, the risk of accidents for conventional vehicles will likely become elevated, according to the Sivak and Schoettle study. They found that SDVs may not be able to avoid crashes that aren’t caused by drivers prompting the authors to write, “It is not a foregone conclusion that a self-driving vehicle would ever perform more safely than an experienced, middle-aged driver.”

Hackers could highjack self-driving vehicles and remotely control them.

As our vehicles become more technologically connected, the possibility of them being hacked and used for criminal purposes increases, according to a report published by British bank Lloyds. For example, hackers could access personal data such as the location of a person, and where they typically drive every day, potentially indicating to a burglar that someone isn’t home. There is also potential for cyber terrorism. For example, a large-scale immobilization of cars on public roads could throw a country into chaos, added Lloyds.

Terrorists could take over SDVs as lethal weapons.

Hackers could also take over self-driving vehicles and use them as lethal weapons, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation warned. In a nightmare scenario, terrorists could program explosive-packed cars to become self-driving bombs, or a self-driving vehicle could be programmed to drive a getaway while criminals in the car could use their free hands to shoot at pursuers.

Majority of people shun self-driving vehicles

According to the second annual survey conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, almost half of motorists shun self-driving cars, with almost half saying they’d rather drive themselves.

Researchers Schoettle and Sivak received 618 responses from licensed drivers 18 or older via Survey Monkey. A similar study done in 2014 found many of the same reservations among consumers.

Given the choice among three levels of automation in a future vehicle — no self-driving, partial self-driving and complete self-driving the percentage of respondents who said they would prefer no self-driving technology actually rose slightly to 46 percent from 44 percent last year. Slightly fewer people this year said they’d be OK with partial autonomy (38.7 percent) than last year (40.6 percent).

Almost all, 94.5 percent are not comfortable being in a car that doesn’t have a steering wheel, brake pedal and accelerator because it is self-driving. Women were slightly more resistant than men to any autonomous features, as 48.4 percent of women said they want no self-driving capability compared with 43.1 percent of men.

Schoettle said he doesn’t expect Uber, Google, Apple or any traditional automakers to slow their efforts to achieve safe, but totally autonomous vehicles, but surveys like this can tell them what features people want or don’t want.

Source: Yahoo finance, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute

How Technology is Changing Business Travel

Our world has undergone seismic changes over the past few decades due to technology, and the way we travel and do business has also evolved as a result.

To help you make the most of your business travel, here’s a look at the latest business travel trends, courtesy of American Express Global Business Travel.

Business travelers are using their mobile devices

The first business travel trend is not new or surprising, but it is continually evolving. Business travelers are increasingly using and dependent on their mobile devices and travel-related apps.

In 2015, the number of global mobile users surpassed the number of computer desktop users. Since then, mobile usage has also increased over desktop usage as the most used medium for daily digital consumption, according to a study by venture capital firm KPCB.

The increase in mobile usage has naturally changed the way people plan and travel for business and other reasons. Where computers were once just used for research and browsing, travelers of all kinds are now confidently and securely booking their travel via mobile devices.  According to estimates from eMarketer, mobile booking from smart phones and tablets will account for the majority of digital travel bookings during 2017.

Interestingly, millennials are at the forefront of mobile usage for travel. According to research from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), conducted in partnership with American Express Global Business Travel, 72 percent of millennials use mobile devices to check itineraries at least once per day during business trips.

Millennials also lead all business travelers in using their mobile phones to track their expenses. This should come as no surprise, as 2015 research found that more than twice as many millennial business travelers were interested in using their mobile device to keep track of expenses when compared to travelers over the age of 55.

Home-sharing sites changing where we stay

Just as mobile technology is driving the business travel trends, it’s also had a huge influence on changes in travel accommodations. Home-sharing services like AirBnB™ and HomeAway™ saw a 56-percent growth in use between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016, according to data from Concur.

AirBnB, the most popular of the home-sharing sites, has an estimated 2 million listings worldwide, with revenue of about $2.4 billion in the U.S. last year. The business has been valued at $24 billion, higher than the $21-billion valuation of hotel giant Marriott International, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Nationwide, AirBnB lists about 173,000 units, equal to about 3.5 percent of the more than 5 million rooms rented out by traditional hotels, according to a study by CBRE’s hotel research arm. The study goes on to say that AirBnB properties have started to pressure hotels to keep rates low in a handful of cities where home-sharing units are plentiful, including Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York.

Increased competition increasing hotel perks

Another benefit of increasing competition in the hotel industry is that we’re seeing a continued increase in the free services offered by hotels. For example, many hotels are offering free Wi-Fi in order to attract more business travelers. According to the latest GBTA research, 75 percent of business travelers said that Wi-Fi is vital to their productivity. Additionally, 25 percent of respondents said that a lack of reliable Wi-Fi access is the most frustrating part of their travels—even more so than the travel itself.

Source: American Express Global Business Travel