Prevailing logic dictates that aviation technology is stuck in the 20th century, but the industry has important lessons for the pioneers of autonomous cars who are facing similar challenges.
Some car manufacturers are overstating the capability of autonomous car features currently in production. For example, there have been recent high-profile accidents involving autonomous cars which may indicate that many of these vehicles are not ready for mass adoption.
One culprit may be the name of Tesla's "Autopilot" system which overstates what is actually a semi-autonomous system. The showroom salesperson is unlikely to educate a driver on the limits of the system they are buying and then you know how this story ends.
Fortunately, the aviation industry lived through similar challenges at the advent of authentic autopilot features in planes.
In the early days of automated flying, many pilots were dozing off during flights and overlooking errors the systems was making. Industry leaders quickly reacted with special training programs for pilots which explained what the system could and couldn't do. This drastically reduced the crash rates from the 1990s onwards.
A new driver training and licensing regime may be required to support the launch of autonomous vehicles. Automotive regulators and car manufacturers ought to ensure drivers are properly equipped to take control of an advanced car, otherwise the technology is unlikely to catch on.
Until the automotive industry and regulators reconcile a cartoonish version of semi-autonomous features with the reality of how to use them safely, the future may not be nearly as safe as one might hope.