Dietmar Exler, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz USA, believes that driverless cars are likely to be ‘bullied’ by human drivers when the two are sharing road space.
Speaking at a motoring conference in LA, Mr Exler told delegates that it human failings are the main factor slowing the development of self-driving cars – more so than technology, insurance considerations or getting even people to accept the very concept of self-driving cars.
“The real issue is humans,” he said. While driverless cars will be programmed to be law-obiding and considerate road-users, their human counterparts will be much more aggressive. And so, when a driver is trying to cut into a row of traffic, they’ll know that self-driving cars are programmed to stop if faced with an obstruction.
“They’ll look for the autonomous car and that’s where they’ll cut in,” Mr Exlar said.
A solution could be to make autonomous vehicles a little more assertive and aggressive – a little more human, perhaps. However, Mr Exler doubts such a move would ever be signed off by regulators.
Mr Exler, originally from Austria, was appointed to the CE role at Mercedes in December 2015. He leads more than 2,700 employees across the US, Canada and Mexico.
He has previously been VP of sales at MBUSA, and VP of marketing at DaimlerChrysler.