Volvo is hiding driverless cars because humans can’t be trusted

If you’ve ever driven through a major city during rush hour, you’ll know just how opportunistic, cutthroat and downright rude motorists can be – and that’s exactly why Volvo is going to disguise its first driverless cars. Senior technical leader at the Swedish car company, Erik Coelingh, has revealed the first 100 autonomous cars it deploys in London will be unmarked – to hide them from human drivers.

Volvo is hiding driverless cars because humans can’t be trusted

“From the outside you won’t see that it’s a self-driving car. From a purely scientific perspective, it would be interesting to have some cars that are marked as self-driving cars and some that are not, and see whether other road users react in a different way,” Coelingh told The Observer.

“I would expect they will, but I don’t know how and to what extent. So just to be on the safe side they will all be unmarked cars. I’m pretty sure that people will challenge them if they are marked by doing really harsh braking in front of a self-driving car or putting themselves in the way,” he added.

Volvo’s move to hide its autonomous cars follows a report by the London School of Economics that pretty much confirms its thinking. Carried out across 12,000 drivers over 11 countries, the study attempted to discover the attitudes and behaviour human drivers will have towards driverless cars.

As expected, the results showed that human drivers would look to exploit or manipulate driverless cars because they’d be easier to “mug off”. One driver questioned for the survey said: “I’ll be overtaking all the time because they’ll be sticking to the rules.” While another added “They are going to stop. So you’re going to mug them right off. They’re going to stop and you’re just going to nip around.”

A difficult transitional period

One of the main problems with our autonomous future is the time it’ll take to get us there. All autonomous traffic will most likely be safer than all-human traffic, but the journey between then and now could see our roads become even more dangerous than they are already. By mixing autonomous technology with human drivers, carmakers could be encouraging more dangerous driving.

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