Marketing and Regulating Self-Driving Cars
Despite impressive advances, the technology does not exist yet to create fully self-driving cars that are capable of responding to all possible driving and weather conditions.
Meanwhile, in television and online advertisements, automobile manufacturers are stressing the ease and convenience of letting the car do the driving for you. Using smart technology to implement what are called “standard driver assistance features,” Volvo ads show cars parallel parking, using adaptive cruise control to match speed to posted speed limits, giving blind spot warnings, engaging in emergency braking, and taking over steering functions in some situations.
Many of these self-driving features have been shown to improve traffic safety and save lives in accidents. Left unsaid in the ads, however, is that many drivers can and do disable these features, negating any positive impacts (see Uber disabled Volvo's safety system before self-driving accident), and that split-second, sometimes life-or-death decisions, usually made by humans are being handed over to artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.
The following activity is drawn from debates over the role and powers of the federal government versus state government that have existed since the Articles of Confederation and the writing of the U.S. Constitution. Here you can investigate how auto manufacturers are marketing self-driving cars and what local, state, and national governments should be doing to create safer driving for everyone.
Activity: Evaluate Who Should Regulate Self-Driving Cars
- Research the recommendations and rules regarding self-driving cars (if any) from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the National Traffic Safety Board, and your local town/city and state governments.
- Watch ads for new cars on television and/or online and focus on how self-driving and autonomous operation features are promoted in words and visuals. Use the questions on the Teacher and Student Guide to Analyzing Advertisements document to guide your analysis of the media.
- Then, consider the following question:
- Do you think the state government (like under the Articles of Confederation), the federal government (under the Constitution’s federal system), or private companies (as in a competitive marketplace) should take responsibility for regulating self-driving technology?
- Design a TV or social media advertisement, using the techniques you uncovered in step 2, that persuades viewers to understand your point of view regarding who should regulate self-driving technology.
- Autonomous Vehicles | Self-Driving Vehicles Enacted Legislation - National Conference of State Legislatures
- Regulating Autonomous Vehicles - National Conference of State Legislatures
- The state of self-driving car laws across the U.S.
- The Evolution of In-Car Voice Control
Connecting to the eBook
Connecting to the Standards
- Massachusetts Civics & Government Standards
- Analyze the weaknesses of the national government under the Articles of Confederation and describe the crucial events (e.g. Shays' Rebellion) leading to the Constitutional Convention (Massachusetts Curriculum Framework for History and Social Studies) [8.T2.2]
- ISTE Standards
- Digital Citizen
- 2c: Students demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.
- Knowledge Constructor
- 3a: Students plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.
- 3b: Students evaluate the accuracy, perspective, credibility and relevance of information, media, data, or other resources.
- 3d: Students build knowledge by actively exploring real-world issues and problems, developing ideas and theories and pursuing answers and solutions.
- Creative Communicator
- 6a: Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
- 6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
- 6d: Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for the intended audiences.
- Digital Citizen
- DLCS Standards
- Ethics and Laws (CAS.b)
- Interpersonal and Societal Impact (CAS.c)
- Digital Tools (DTC.a)
- Collaboration and Communication (DTC.b)
- Research (DTC.c)
- English Language Arts > History/Social Studies Common Core Standards
- English/Language Arts Common Core Standards