The bottom line is that partial self-driving cars should not be legal. Either the car should be able to drive itself, completely, with no human intervention beyond “I want to go here,” or it should not have “autopilot” features beyond cruise control.

People cruise down the highways now reading books, playing with phones, doing makeup, and all sorts of other shit that isn’t driving. It only gets worse when the car will drive for you - it’s an absolute guarantee that drivers will be paying attention to other crap “because the car drives itself!” And that means that until the car really can drive itself without supervision, the option shouldn’t be there.

Training is, honestly, fairly irrelevant in most cases here. When you train a pilot, she’s paying attention and focused, and that will probably continue as she transitions to solo flying because flying is something she *wants* to do.

The average driver who does not read Jalopnik doesn’t really *want* to drive. Driving is a means to an end. If they were rich enough, they’d pay someone else to drive them around. You stick that behind the wheel of a “car that drives itself” and you can damn-well bet they’re gonna let it, even if you train them to stay focused on the task of driving while the car is driving.

Beyond that, autopilots in planes make sense because a pilot can set it to maintain 250 or less below 10,000 and then focus his attention on other tasks like programming an FMS or configuring for the next phase of flight. He’ll still monitor the airspeed, but he doesn’t have to screw with the throttle. The workload is higher in an airplane and it makes sense to let a machine do some while you do the rest.

But in cars, they just don’t make any sense if you still have to concentrate on driving. If the car is steering itself, but I have to keep my hands on the wheel and monitor its steering constantly, then what the hell is the point of autopilot? I’m still driving, I’m just wrestling a computer for decisionmaking control. Utterly useless if used in a safe manner, and things that are utterly useless unless used unsafely probably shouldn’t be on the market.