(Photo: Shutterstock.com)

A driverless world: a female perspective

Private Life and Mobility

Emily Saunders-Madden

13-04-2019

       

Driverless technology will one day affect us all. From how we do business, to how we shop, travel or connect. Despite the far-reaching nature of autonomous driving, women are being under-represented in the discourse or being shoehorned into narrow content such as safety or vehicle aesthetics.

In this feature, 2025AD author Emily Saunders-Madden spoke to four women from around the globe to get their take on a driverless world, and what it would mean for them.

 

 

JESS (USA)

Jess is a multilingual stay-at-home mum living in Texas. Like many mothers, Jess doesn’t seem to focus much time on herself: “I’m very used to being both mum and dad! I get to do things for myself when the boys are at school.”

 

Jess says her daily transport challenge is getting to know her way around where she lives. She doesn’t want to rely on a satnav all the time. Like most drivers, traffic is a big source of frustration for her: "depending on the time of day traffic can become quite busy. Not 'stand still', just slowly moving.”

 

When discussing her difficulties driving, Jess does admit to falling into one stereotype: “I sometimes struggle to remember to fill the tank up with petrol! After having a Tesla for four years – we would just plug it in to charge! I miss that, and the smooth, assisted drive of an electric car."

 

As a Tesla fan, Jess has already considered what owning a fully driverless car would mean for her family: "it would make long journeys a lot less stressful – it would free up more time to chat to our boys, watch movies together, play games and talk about what they wanted to do when we got to the destination.”

 

Jess confesses that, even with autopilot, she would worry over a loss of control with driverless vehicles. “I would have to put my hands on the steering wheel every five minutes.”

 

Despite this, she also acknowledges that one of the biggest benefits of a driverless society for her is that: “accidents should become none existent”.

(Photo: Shutterstock.com)

NICOLE (GERMANY)

 Having worked at a software company for many years, Nicole has a strong grounding in tech developments. As the mother of two teenagers, living in the south of Germany, Nicole stresses the importance of running family life on a schedule.\

 

She drives a Renault Zoe – an electric car – and knows self-driving cars are largely still at the 'testing phase'. When asked if she would ever buy a driverless car she replied: “why not? It’s certainly more comfortable and less stressful!”

 

Nicole’s view of a driverless technology seems almost entirely positive. She describes a near future where robotic assistance and driverless technology are inevitable and explains that increased data monitoring and less privacy are already a reality. 

 

“For young people like my son, driverless features would be advantage as they would not have to worry about drinking a beer or two when they are out with friends, and when I get old it would help”.

 

In terms of other external benefits, she points out that driverless cars would bring more road safety, less traffic jams, and give drivers more time to do other things.

 

GEMMA (UK)

Gemma, a mother of two, works full time as a project manager in the advertising sector in the United Kingdom. Her awareness of driverless technology comes from over 20 years’ experience working with global automotive clients.

 

Gemma confesses: “I hate public transport – I like to be in control of my route and how I get there.” Unlike Nicole, Gemma’s view of the driverless car is bleak. She divulges that she “had a severe car accident 6 years ago, so I don’t think I have the confidence to trust a driverless car”. Such stories are common and feed into a fear of new automotive developments.

 

However, as we continue to discuss driverless cars, Gemma begins to see their appeal.

 

“I imagine being able to check in with friends on my phone, sitting in between my kids to stop them fighting on journeys, talking to them face-to-face. Maybe taking my dog on more journeys as she’s a nervous passenger - I could sit next to her and give her my attention.”

 

 

DONNA (FRANCE)

Donna is a hotelier and artist in central France. With her children fully grown, and owning her own business, she has the luxury of time to travel across Europe regularly.

 

Donna believes that technological advancements towards driverless cars are inevitable but is also apprehensive: “more information on driverless cars needs to be available. I’d like a choice of vehicle, and the subject to be 'dumbed down' a bit!”

 

Traffic is not a problem for Donna. She has entirely different concerns when driving:

“Winters can bring two metres of snow on the roads, spring electrical storms are common, and temperatures can reach 40-degree centigrade heat in the summer.” It’s these areas I hope driverless can help keep us safe on the road.

 

To Donna, driverless cars are still a distant reality, despite their benefits:

“I like the idea of enjoying the views on long trips, socialising with companions whilst on the move, and being less fatigued when I get somewhere, but the area I live in is very mountainous and rural. Technology doesn’t really work so well in disconnected areas like these.” 

(Photo: Shutterstock.com)

The bottom line

Industry-wide research tells us that women share the same concerns and hopes we all have over driverless vehicles. However, the public debate for them has over focused on safety and security. As publishers, we must ensure that we are open minded and address everything from financials, technological integrations, lifestyle, wellbeing and everything in-between.

 

We’d love to hear from you over the benefits that driverless could bring, so join the debate! What unique challenges and opportunities will driverless technology bring to your life?

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