People are afraid of self-driving cars — can the industry change that?

Self-driving cars have an image problem. They stumble into construction zones, block ambulances, run red lights, and even injure the occasional bicyclist or pedestrian.

Forget the fact that most autonomous vehicles operate each day safely, anonymously, and without fanfare. There are hundreds in operation today in California, Arizona, Texas, and elsewhere, and the numbers are only going to increase. But when they do make mistakes, people tend to notice. Numerous public opinion polls have shown declining support for autonomous vehicles (AV) over the years and a rise in outright hostility toward the technology.

The autonomous vehicle industry’s main lobbying group — yes, of course it has one — is intent on reversing this trend before it gets much worse. The Autonomous Vehicle Industry Association (AVIA) represents Cruise, Waymo, Zoox, Motional, and others. Today, it released something it’s calling its “TRUST Principles,” which is basically an action plan for dealing with these negative headlines and spiraling poll numbers.

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