A study by Kelley Blue Book shows that Americans are still wary of driverless technology, and prefer to drive themselves. Some wonder if this attitude can slow the development of driverless technology.
The study shows that Americans would prefer cars that can self-drive, but also allow the user to take the wheel when they’d like to. This contradicts the recent statement by Lyft, who believes that car ownership in larger cities would be phased out by the year 2025 because of the availability of services like theirs and driverless cars.
Consumers still wanting some control
Kelly Blue Books’s study notes that by 2020, 6 in 10 drivers will have interest in owning cars that are at least partially self-driving, like Autopilot in Teslas today. Although consumers are willing to embrace it in the future, they’re still wary of the technology today: half of the people surveyed want to have full control of their cars – even if autonomous vehicles would improve safety.
Experts also note that still-developing countries like India and China can adopt the infrastructure for driverless cars well before the U.S. can. Because we’re a car-oriented society already, we would have to retrofit our existing roads, says Rebecca Lindland of Kelley Blue Book. Because these other countries’ citizens don’t often own vehicles, they will easily adopt ridesharing and expect it to be the norm in coming years. Only 12% of the respondents to the survey have had experience with driverless technology – parking assistance, adaptive cruise control and lane correction.
Driverless tech safety in the news
Autonomous vehicles have been in the news lately – from the sad accidental deaths of two Tesla drivers to Uber launching self-driving taxis in Pittsburgh.
An investigation into the death of a Florida man in a Tesla Model S in Autopilot mode in May shows the car’s sensors didn’t “see” the semi-truck in front of it making a left turn and crashed into the back of it, killing the driver. In addition, there are reports that indicate the driver wasn’t fully engaged with the car or was speeding. This month, a Chinese driver in the same model Tesla also in Autopilot died after the car slammed into another vehicle on a highway. Concerns rise about the technology’s safety, the role of the driver while in self-driving mode and whether the tech is too new and too dangerous to release to the general public just yet.
Ridesharing giant Uber launched their self-driving taxi program in Pittsburgh earlier this month, testing the vehicles for a potential nation-wide release in the future. Some who have taken the taxis say the waiver you must sign is cause for concern, which includes language that the passengers agrees to ride in an autonomous vehicle may involve the potential for death, serious injury, and/or property loss.”