New research suggests people may want self-driving cars to show ‘personality’

Humans are complex creatures, according to foreign media CNET. The way relationships are built and interacts with others is not the simplest explanation, but thanks to social scientists, we have a basic overview of the relationships between people of different personalities. But in the 21st century, transportation is changing, and now science is exploring how humans can best get along with robots, including self-driving cars.


A new study released Thursday by the University of Michigan shows that when humans exhibit desirable personality traits, they prefer to use self-driving cars, which include three of the “five” personality traits defined as helpful (for the sake of others), consciousness (with self-control), and emotional stability (adjusted).

Open to Experience and sexual extresibility were identified as two other major personality factors, although the study found no link between the two factors and how participants viewed self-driving cars.

Participants in the study included 443 participants with an average age of 42.7 and were asked to rate their personality. They took part in an immersive experience in which driverless cars brought them “around.” In this case, self-driving cars show their “personality” in sunny or snowy weather.


The results are conclusive. Even if human passengers score below average in terms of pleasure, consciousness and emotional stability, they still prefer self-driving cars that exhibit these “characteristics.”

Throughout the study, safety remained a variable, with human passengers rating to show how they felt about the ride. If a self-driving car had one of three ideal characteristics, the safety score for passengers would increase by 8.9% to 13.8%. Participants in these activities were least safe when they received high scores in these categories, but they felt that self-driving cars did not exhibit these “personality” characteristics.

The work is designed to give automakers and technology companies insight into how humans can better adapt to self-driving cars. If humans don’t think self-driving cars behave unsafely, they probably won’t use them. But while driverless cars operate in a way that makes people feel comfortable, it’s important.

“Imagine when you get into a self-driving car, it sends a message to your phone to update how it drives, (voice) and how it interacts with you,” said Lionel Robert, an associate professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Information. As a result, he believes that self-driving cars can actually have “personalized” characteristics to best match passengers.

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