The Resistance Behind Self-Driving Is Loss Of Control

Driverless cars are great.

I imagine once self-driving vehicles become mainstream, we’d be free to do our own stuffs like observing the changing scenery or reading the papers. Wait, isn’t that what public transport already provides? Driverless cars have the benefits of picking you up from your doorstep, and driving you to the exact destination.

What’s more, the roads will be more efficient. Instead of having a vehicle idling at the car park, it can be on the road picking people up as and when needed. Humans being humans, are prone to judgemental errors. Hard braking is annoying, so is abrupt lane changing and sudden acceleration. In more serious cases, they result in accidents. Most of the accidents are avoidable and caused by human errors.

The roads would be far better off without a human in control behind the wheel.

And that’s precisely the reason why it’s facing so much resistance.

The process of selling industrial equipment is inefficient. It’s a highly clunky process involving trips to the auction site, where a land filled with equipment after equipment are displayed. As a dealer, you are not sure if there are buyers that are willing to meet your prices for them. As a buyer, you need to travel physically to the site, bid for the equipment and even then, you might not get it. Imagine travelling all the way down and go back empty handed.

Why hasn’t somebody thought of a better idea and execute it? That’s what Allstocker of Japan did.

With the internet connecting everyone to everywhere, there’s no real need to be physically present. Worried about the authenticity of equipment listed? Allstocker provides independent inspection that ensures the equipment is true to its listing. Worried that once you pay up, the seller doesn’t ship over? Allstocker ensures once the buyer pays up, they will hold on to the payment, and only releases the money to the seller when they have shipped the equipment.

It’s an industry ripe for disruption. No wonder Allstocker is doing great and expanding their range of inventory.

Then again, I think back to this quote by Jason Fried in his article “What are you competing with?” In it, he shares his thought on the inefficient process of selling cars. The used car would first be sent to the wholesale auction, where dealers/buyers from all over the country would bid, buy and redistribute the cars. Why not cut away this tedious process?

Turns out, saving time, headache, and money isn’t a top priority of the sales managers.

[…] What’s more important to a sales manager than a dollar? A day away from the office. A break from the monotony of selling cars off the lot. A road trip to the auction. Hanging with their other sales manager buddies in a hotel somewhere far from home. A little vacay, even if it’s a working vacation.

[…] The company that’s trying to sell the anti-auction product and service isn’t competing with the auction, they are competing with the auction experience.

One would think safety would be the top-most concern. But as the technology matures, self-driving would be way safer than human being. I’m sure of this. Most of the people I spoke to seem to agree. However, they are still not keen on the idea of self-driving. Why, I asked them, is stopping them from going this route since it offers so much benefits?

The sense of control. The lost of control is the resistance stopping self-driving vehicles.

Man want control of their actions. Sitting behind the wheels give them the mean to do so. By having the option to self-driving, you are indirectly removing away their sense of control. To people who have been taking public transport all along, this is not an issue. But to people who have been driving for a long time, this takes some getting used to. The experience of having control of the car is the real reason they are reluctant to see driverless vehicles becoming a reality.

In this case, while self-driving vehicles are competing against other traditional car manufacturers, they are also competing against something else entirely.