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People are bad at taking over control from self-driving cars

Every day, more and more stories emerge on the future of automobiles. Namely, the upcoming self-driving car revolution. Automakers across the board are investing in new technologies and exploring ways to safely and smartly bring about the self-driving vehicles. In fact, some companies already have products and software out to reduce the burden on the driver, and allow artificial intelligence to pilot your vehicle. 

However, the future isn't always sunny. A new study shows that people who hand over control to automated vehicles aren't great at taking control back, as per Popular Science.

According to the University of Southampton, researchers conducted an experiment in which both distracted and non-distracted drivers were ordered to take back control of an autonomous vehicle. The researchers found that those drivers who were issued a secondary task (i.e. were given a distraction), performed noticeably slower in regaining control of the vehicle. 

This study could open a window into the dangers of a burgeoning market. Automakers like Tesla, which rolled out its Autopilot system recently, insist that while their cars are equipped with safe-driving software, the assumption is that drivers are paying attention to the road and are ready to interfere with the self-driving system at any moment, and regain control when necessary.

However, if the results of this study hold up, they show that additional safety hazards may be at place if drivers are distracted after the "handoff" to automated driving software. 

In particular, the study also found that it can take between 2 and 26 seconds for a driver to hand off control to an autopilot. This wide range could mean that automakers and technology companies aiming at creating self-driving software should not aim at an average response time, but rather account for wide fluctuations in behavior and response time between humans. 

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