Self-driving cars (automated vehicles or AVs) are no longer just a laboratory experiment. In some parts of the world, prototypes are starting to appear on public roads. The thoughts of developers have understandably turned to their relationship with the members of the public who could become the users of the technology, stakeholders in its development or interested bystanders. The people involved in innovation are likely to have confidence in their technology and emphasise its potential benefits and its safety. Members of the public may see things very differently. With past technologies, the tendency has been to reject the views of members of the public as ill-informed or seek to change public attitudes. The evidence from previous controversies is that just talking without listening represents a bad approach. There is a need for ongoing public dialogue, not just top-down salesmanship. This is particularly important when a technology is being developed, as AVs are, not just in private laboratories, but in public.
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