Although there seems to be a consensus in the automotive world that autonomous cars are a safer, more efficient, and greener alternative to conventional vehicles, the general public in the United States seems to be wary about the prospect of having to relinquish complete control over driving and give themselves up to self-driving cars.
Studies show that many Americans are concerned about riding in a vehicle controlled by self-driving technology, even though they are well-aware of the potential benefits that these vehicles can bring to society. Concerns that the public has in regards with driverless cars include liability issues in case of an accident, privacy concerns, and their vulnerability to hacker attacks.
Now, a new report shows that drivers are still not ready to embrace completely self-driven vehicles and prefer to ride in vehicles that are controlled by people to some extent. Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) conducted a survey recently, in an attempt to gauge U.S. driver preferences for vehicle automation.
The researchers conducted an online survey of 505 drivers to find out how they feel about autonomous driving technology, and discovered that most of them don’t want fully-autonomous cars. The survey shows that the majority of drivers (43.8%) prefer cars with no self-driving capabilities, with 40.6% of respondents preferring partially self-driving cars, whereas completely self-driving cars is the preferred choice to only 15.6% of drivers.
These results clearly suggest that most drivers want to retain control of the most important vehicle functions, although autonomous driving technology promises to improve traffic safety and reduce congestion, which would benefit all road users.
“Self-driving vehicles are often discussed in regard to their potential safety, energy-consumption and environmental benefits, or the existing technical challenges that must be overcome for their successful implementation,” Schoettle said. “However, less attention has been paid to considering the actual level of automation, if any, that drivers desire in their vehicle.”
In addition to their preference for vehicle automation, researchers asked drivers how safe they would feel while riding in autonomous vehicles. The majority of respondents (35.6%) said that they would be very concerned about riding in completely self-driving vehicles, as opposed to just 14.1% expressing concern for partially self-driven vehicles.
Finally, researchers asked how drivers would want to be notified when they need to take control of a partially self-driven car, and the majority of them responded that they would prefer a combination of sound, vibration and visual warnings.
What this survey shows is that public perception of driverless cars hasn’t changed over the past couple of years, even though practically all major automakers and the world’s leading tech companies continue to explore autonomous driving technology and assure the public that driverless cars will be superior to conventional vehicles in terms of safety, security and efficiency.