Survey: Consumer Confidence In Self-Driving Cars

A new poll conducted by vehicle price guide and automotive research group Kelley Blue Book indicates that consumers may not yet be ready for self-driving cars.

The survey, conducted among a sample size of 2,264 12-64 year olds, found that consumers are torn almost evenly between the need for safety and desire for control. 49 percent answered that “I prefer to have a safe roadway for all, even if that means I have less control over my own vehicle.” 51 percent, meanwhile chose “I prefer to have full control of my vehicle, even if it’s not as safe for other drivers.”

However, 63 percent of respondents said that roads would be safer if self-driving vehicles were standard.

Respondents however did not believe that people should be forced out of the choice to drive, as 80 percent said that people should always have the option to drive themselves, with only 20 percent stating that if a computer system were capable of controlling every vehicle on the road, then humans driving should be illegal.

In addition, 30 percent of respondents claimed they would never buy a fully autonomous or “Level 5” vehicle, and 19 percent said they would only buy one if they had no other choice. 16 percent would buy such a vehicle as soon as they were available; the slight majority (35 percent) indicated that they would wait to buy one until they were more comfortable with the idea. A Level 5 autonomous vehicle is one in which there is no steering wheel or pedals, and all driving is done by computers with no ability for humans to take over.

People who took the survey seemed to feel that Level 4 autonomy offered the best “balance” of the safety and convenience of fully autonomous systems when desired, and the choice of people being able to drive their own cars when they wanted. One person said”

“It seems to offer the best rounded experience—allows people to not have to drive if they don’t want to/can’t for any reason (age, sickness, just don’t feel like it, unfamiliar area, etc.), yet allows for one to drive if needed or desired.”

A majority – 62 percent – of all respondents said they didn’t think they’d live to see a world in which all vehicles were fully autonomous. However, that belief was much stronger among baby boomers (ages 51 to 64) 76 percent of whom answered in this way. Still, young millennials – 18 to 24 year olds – had a fairly high rate of 60 percent. “Young Gen Z” – defined as 12 to 15 year olds – had the lowest confidence that they’d never see a fully autonomous world, at 33 percent.

Knowledge is fairly low; only 12 percent of respondents claimed to know “a lot” about autonomous vehicles. 28 percent knew “some,” 35 percent knew “a little,” and 25 percent said they knew nothing about the technology.

This section, however, varied highly by age group. Young Gen Z respondents claimed to know “a lot,” about autonomous vehicles, whereas only one percent of baby boomers said the same.Of course, 13-year-olds are likely to vastly overestimate their own knowledge, but it could illustrate a higher optimism about this technology. This age group would also feel the most comfortable and safest letting a vehicle drive for them without their control; it is important to note that this is the only group in the survey who are not yet old enough to drive, so their first or second vehicle having a high level of autonomy is not unreasonable (in contrast to the baby boomers, who have been driving for 30 years or more).

Uber recently unveiled a self-driving car pilot program in Pittsburgh. However, according to the survey results, consumers may not be so willing to trade their human chauffeurs for robots just yet. 56 percent said they would prefer to use ride-sharing services with human drivers, 44 percent said they’d prefer self-driving vehicles.

Autonomous vehicles still have a lot of promise and is an issue that excites many, but as this poll of consumer attitudes shows, average drivers may still be hesitant about this technology.

Read the survey results here:

Copyright for above image: funlovingvolvo / 123RF Stock Photo

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