After a year of high-profile self-driving car accidents, a recent survey announced that the public opinion on autonomous cars has worsened.
AAA performs an annual survey in which they assess the what percentage of Americans are scared of automated vehicles. This year, they announced that 71% of Americans are afraid to ride in a fully self-driving car. The number is up from 63% last year. This change is possibly due to high-profile crashes such as the fatal Uber crash last year in Arizona.
AAA believes there is a gap between consumers’ beliefs about autonomous cars and the reality of how the technology operates. That gap needs to be bridged in order for people to feel more comfortable with self-driving cars.
“Automated vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is affecting how consumers feel about it. Having the opportunity to interact with partially or fully automated vehicle technology will help remove some of the mystery for consumers and open the door for greater acceptance,” said AAA Director of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations, Greg Brannon.
AAA also found that consumers’ experiences with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) often alleviated the worries associated with self-driving cars.
ADAS include features like lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking and self-parking. Exposure to ADAS often has this effect because these systems are the building blocks of autonomous vehicle systems.
The survey also showed that some consumers are more comfortable with limited uses of automated vehicles. For example, 53% would be willing to ride in lower-speed and short distance forms of transportation. Some examples include people movers at theme parks and airports. Another 44% would be comfortable with self-driving cars for the delivery of mail, packages, and food. However, the number drops to less than 20% when it comes to transporting one’s loved ones.
“Despite fears still running high, AAA’s study also shows that Americans are willing to take baby steps toward incorporating this type of technology into their lives,” Brannon said. “Hands-on exposure in more controlled, low-risk environments coupled with stronger education will play a key role in easing fears.”