US president Donald Trump, a man habituated to being driven everywhere he goes, is reportedly not a fan of self-driving car technology. Citing four sources who’ve seen and heard Trump commenting on autonomous vehicles, Axios says the president’s attitude in private is one of express antipathy: “Yeah that’s cool but I would never get in a self-driving car. … I don’t trust some computer to drive me around,” Trump is reported to have said to an enthusiastic new Tesla owner at his Bedminster golf club in 2017.
In other conversations on Air Force One and at the White House, the US president is said to have acted out hypothetical self-driving car accidents, decrying the loss of human control: “Can you imagine, you’re sitting in the back seat and all of a sudden this car is zig-zagging around the corner and you can’t stop the f***ing thing?” Though ironic in the context of being delivered while flying on a plane that is flown mostly by autonomous systems, Trump’s comments are reflective of a wider distrust of the still-nascent self-driving vehicle tech. A poll by AAA last summer found that 73 percent of Americans drivers would be too afraid to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle.
In spite of the president’s private remarks, the current US administration has shown itself reluctant to regulate self-driving cars. On the contrary, the country’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working on rewriting safety rules to allow autonomous driving on public roads. So, in spite of Trump’s characteristically bombastic language and descriptions, this remains an area of public administration where his personal views are not translated into overall government policy. For now.