Three in Four Americans Still Fear Fully Automated Cars


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A majority of Americans are still afraid to ride in fully self-driving cars.

A year after several reports of high-profile automated vehicle incidents, AAA found the nation’s attitude toward driverless transportation has not rebounded.

The organization’s annual survey revealed that 71 percent of people prefer to have some control over the two-ton hunk of metal they’re traveling in—versus 63 percent in 2017.

“Automated vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is affecting how consumers feel about it,” Greg Brannon, AAA’s director of automotive engineering and industry relations, said in a statement.

“Having the opportunity to interact with partially or fully automated vehicle technology will help remove some of the mystery for consumers,” he continued, “and open the door for greater acceptance.”

Many modern cars are already equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), considered the “building blocks” for fully automated vehicles.

Practice makes perfect, and AAA reported that regular interaction with ADAS components—like lane-keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, automatic emergency braking, and self parking—can help ease consumer’s comfort level.

Americans are receptive to automated tech in limited applications: While folks are happy to receive food or parcels from a fully self-driving vehicle, the thought of transporting loved ones significantly increases anxiety.

“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 about self-driving cars.”

Most skeptics cite reasons such as lack of trust, not wanting to give up driving, unripe technology, and iffy road conditions.

But while 55 percent of people believe most cars will be able to drive themselves by 2029, experts agree that a fully automated fleet is still “decades away,” according to AAA.

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