By Spencer Feingold
After decades of hype around self-driving cars, technological advancements are close to making the era of autonomous vehicles a reality. However, a recent survey conducted by the insurance and auto services company AAA found that nearly three in four Americans are afraid of using the self-driving technology.
We wanted to “keep a finger on the pulse of the American sentiment related to vehicle autonomy,” Greg Brannon, AAA's director of automotive engineering and industry relations, told Cheddar on Monday.
According to the study, 71 percent of people are afraid to ride in fully self-driving vehicles.
Researchers did find that 53 percent of people are comfortable with low-speed, short-distance forms of automated transportation, and 44 percent are comfortable with self-driving vehicles for delivery services. Yet, only 20 percent of respondents said they were comfortable with self-driving cars transporting their loved ones.
Brannon said the apprehension stems largely from “a fear of the unknown.”
“Not having the experience yet themselves, I don't think people can put a precise point on why they feel uncomfortable,” he said.
The study followed several high-profile accidents involving self-driving cars, including an incident in Arizona last year when a self-driving Uber vehicle hit and killed a pedestrian. The county prosecutor announced earlier this month that there is “no basis for criminal liability for the Uber corporation.”
“Automated vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is affecting how consumers feel about it,” Brannon added in a statement.
However, Brannon said that attitudes are likely to change as more people experience automation.
“Experience combined with safe deployment and testing of these systems will increase the comfort level among Americans,” he said.
The survey found that people whose cars are equipped with advanced driver assistance systems, such as cruise control and automatic emergency braking, are already more trusting of fully automated vehicles.
“If you give people that ability to experience those technologies in bite-sized chunks we’re likely to see greater acceptance,” Brannon said.
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