Driverless Cars Gain Public Acceptance, Sort Of
Life + Money

Driverless Cars Gain Public Acceptance, Sort Of


Self-driving vehicles are gaining in popularity – yet concerns among the general public remain high, especially when it comes to security issues. A report on CBS explains that people are afraid of computer glitches, even though airplanes successfully fly on auto pilot and other machinery is successfully programmed to work autonomously in complex situations. 

Google, one of the pioneers of autonomous vehicles, argues most auto accidents are caused by human error, which they say can be eliminated by self-driving cars.

Related: Google Preps Self-Driving Cars for City Traffic

Still, a new study from Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute of more than 1,500 people from the U.S., the U.K. and Australia confirmed the “fear” finding across all countries.  Many expressed concern about the safety of riding in these self-driving vehicles. They said the vehicles wouldn’t drive as well as human-driven vehicles and that self-driving cars could get “confused” by unexpected road situations.

Yet a majority of respondents have a positive initial opinion of the technology and high expectations of its benefits. Consumers also agreed that while most like the new technology, they don’t want to pay anything extra for it.  

Related: Driverless Truck of the Future Will Crash into Labor Laws of the Past

In the U.S., Google has recently started testing self-driving cars on city streets and could make them available in about 10 years. Several states, including California, Nevada, Florida and Michigan, have passed legislation allowing tests of self-driving vehicles on public roads.

One town in the U.K., Milton Keynes, is already experimenting with driverless cars, which could be introduced there by mid-2017. American respondents expressed greater concern than those in the U.K. or in Australia about data privacy and about how driverless vehicles would interact with non-self-driving vehicles.

“The main implications are that motorists and the general public in the three countries surveyed, while expressing high levels of concern about riding in vehicles equipped with this technology, feel positive about self-driving vehicles, have optimistic expectations of the benefits, and generally desire self-driving vehicle technology when it becomes available,” concluded the study.

But only if the price is right.

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