Self-driving cars will soon be easy to hide. Many of the lidar sensors on the roof are likely to become smaller. Mercedes vehicles with the Drive Pilot system are already indistinguishable to the naked eye from ordinary human-operated vehicles.

Is this a good thing? As part of our Driverless Futures project at University College London, my colleagues and I recently concluded the largest and most comprehensive survey of citizens' attitudes to self-driving vehicles and the rules of the road. After interviewing more than 50 experts, we decided to ask if the cars should be labeled. It must be clear to other road users if a vehicle is driving itself according to the majority of UK citizens.

The survey was sent to a small group of experts. They were not convinced that a vehicle's status should be advertised. The question is not straightforward. Both sides have valid arguments.

Humans should know when they are interacting with machines. The report was commissioned by the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It is safer to give a wide berth to a vehicle that may not behave like one driven by a well-practiced human than it is to operate a car by a student driver.

There are arguments for and against labeling. A label could be seen as abdication of responsibilities, implying that others should accommodate a self-driving vehicle. It could be argued that a new label, without a clear sense of the technology's limits, would only add confusion to roads that are already rife with distraction.

Data collection is affected by labels. If a self-driving car learns to drive and other people behave differently, this could taint the data it gathers. A Volvo executive told a reporter in 2016 that the company would be using secret cars for its self-driving trial on UK roads.

In the short term, the arguments for labeling are more persuasive. There is more to this debate than just self-driving cars. It touches on the question of how novel technologies should be regulated. When regulators come knocking, the developers of emerging technologies often paint them as merely incremental and unproblematic. Novel technologies do not fit into the world as it is. They change worlds. We need to be honest about their risks if we want to make good decisions.

The myth that computers will drive better than humans needs to be dispelled to better understand and manage the deployment of self-driving cars. The cameras on our face and the microphones on the sides give us data that self-driving cars can't.