Don Norman: Designing For People

Nielsen Norman Group

Interview: Is Tesla Racing Recklessly Towards Driverless Cars?

Chunka Mui wrote to say he was writing an article on autonomous cars and asked for my thoughts.  He published his article in Forbes , and before I knew it, I was suddenly front and center into the debate about Tesla and autonomy.

Here is the article:


And here is my response to the (fortunately very few) complaints.  People really love their teslas and do not like any criticism.

My reply is:


Yes, I have experienced Tesla's autopilot (as well as the pre-release models from other OEMs). I also have published several articles pointing out that imperfect automation can be a lot safer than imperfect human drivers. But we aren't there yet. Beware of the opinions of people who experience the new automated features and gush rhapsodic. Even though the US has 30,000+ deaths/year and 1,000,000 injuries, the risk is very low. You can drive a million miles without incident. Americans drive over 2 trillion miles each year, so, a probability of getting into an accident of 1 in a million is not good enough. My simple argument is that near automation is more dangerous than either full automation or partial automation. See my articles at jnd.org. Read the literature on aviation safety.

Data on automobile miles driven and accidents/deaths


My papers on automation: too many to list. Simple put "norman automation" into your favorite search engine.



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