Do people actually want autonomous vehicles?

Do people actually want autonomous vehicles?

Companies like Google, Uber, Lyft and Tesla are developing automated vehicles, but public opinion hasn’t warmed to the idea of driverless cars yet.
According to a study by University of Michigan, 43.8 percent of drivers surveyed said they didn’t want any automation at all in their next vehicles.

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The study, which measured attitudes toward varying levels of automation (‘fully self driving’, ‘partially self-driving’, and ‘no self-driving’) found that only 15 percent of respondents would want a fully self-driving vehicle as their next purchase. Meanwhile, 39 percent said they would prefer a vehicle that has some self-driving features.

Nearly all respondents (95 percent) said they would want access to a steering wheel, gas and pedal controls even if a vehicle were self-driving, suggesting a wariness toward the technology.

Brandon Schoettle, the study’s author, noted that public attitudes toward self-driving vehicles haven’t shifted much over the past couple of years, despite well-publicized developments in the space.

A number of transportation and vehicle companies are working aggressively to develop and deploy self-driving technology: Uber said last week that the company is testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, Pa.;  Meanwhile, Lyft and General Motors said recently that they would test self-driving taxis within a year, using technology from GM’s reported $1 billion acquisition of Cruise Automation in March 2016. Tesla was also an early adopter and continues to test its cars widely.

Still, all of this activity seemingly hasn’t done much to inspire public confidence. “We were a little bit surprised that overall concern and preferences regarding self-driving vehicles have not changed over the past year or two since we first conducted this survey,” Schoettle said. “We thought that the increase in media coverage over this period would have had some effect, but there has been no change at all.”