Humans Worry About Self-Driving Cars. Maybe It Should Be The Reverse Self-driving cars will perform rationally. For example: stop when someone is in their way. Research suggests humans will take advantage, and step into an intersection when they know they shouldn't. http://www.npr.org/2017/01/10/50908...f-driving-cars-maybe-it-should-be-the-reverse January 10, 20175:16 AM ET . . . VEDANTAM: Well, let me set this up for you. I was talking with Adam Millard-Ball - he's a professor of environmental studies at the University of California at Santa Cruz - and he's modeled what's going to happen when self-driving cars start showing up on the road. . . . VEDANTAM: He told me that, at its core, driving is not just about the physics of moving objects and the law of who can do what on the road. It's also about psychology. People have developed really complex and often unspoken rules of how to interact with one another on the road. You can teach a self-driving car all the rules and give it the tools to navigate around obstacles, but can these cars deal with all the psychological games that human drivers and pedestrians play on the roads? MARTIN: I mean, I know that there's psychological warfare on the road for sure, but tell me how that applies to this situation. VEDANTAM: So when we think of all the technologies that self-driving cars need, we often make a big assumption and that big assumption is that rational behavior is always the right course of action on the road. Millard-Ball told me he once took a taxicab ride in New York. Unlike the standard issue New York cab driver, this one actually drove his car rationally, deliberately and followed all the rules of the road. In other words, he drove like a self-driving car. ADAM MILLARD-BALL: He didn't try and cut in. He'd yielded to pedestrians and cyclists when he should, and in a journey (ph) that two or three times as long to get across Manhattan as it would have done otherwise. . . . VEDANTAM: I think so. I mean, if you know the other car is always going to stop, even if you are in the wrong, you now have a psychological incentive to play a game of chicken because in the game of chicken, crazy beats sane when you're playing chicken. Or think of pedestrians. You know, today I know that if I step into a busy intersection, some crazy driver who is texting his girlfriend is going to hit me, so I do the rational thing and I stay on the sidewalk. But if I was certain the car is always going to stop, and presumably self-driving cars will be programmed to stop, shouldn't we expect lots of pedestrians to boldly step in front of cars? . . . As RamzFanz pointed out, SDCs ARE coming to the market in he next 2-3 years. What he is refusing to acknowledge is that reprogramming humans is going to be a lot harder than programming the cars.