Automakers Ready for Self-Driving Cars, Consumers Not
Studies Show Doubt, Reluctance to Give Up Freedom Among Car Buyers
Self-driving technology has become one of the hot-button issues of the last several years in the auto industry, due to its potentially wide-reaching implications for population distribution, urbanization, economic impact, infrastructure, and personal freedoms. Automakers around the world are investing billions in developing the technology and partnering with well-recognized technology companies in the space such as Google and others. According to a Bloomberg report, automakers say they’re only a few years away from road-ready implementations of advanced driverless vehicles. However, according to multiple consumer surveys and studies, most of the U.S. driving population is not.
Unsurprisingly, attitudes varied by age group, with older drivers having a higher level of distrust of the technology, citing issues they’ve had with computer crashes and viruses on their personal devices influencing their opinion of the potential safety of autonomous systems. Overall acceptance of driverless cars increased from 40 percent to 66 percent when the ability to take over the controls was given as an option.
Millions of “Level 1” and “Level 2” autonomous vehicles are already on the road, with features such as automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and lane-keeping assist. Tesla has introduced an early iteration of “Level 3” autonomous technology with its Autopilot program in the Model S and Model X, which allows driver input but takes over almost all controls on demand. Next on the horizon are “Level 4” autonomous vehicles, which would have full automation of all functions from stop to start and could allow for occupant-free operation. Daimler Trucks recently demonstrated an autonomous truck trip from Germany to the Netherlands and has received approval in the state of Nevada for on-road testing of autonomous Class-8 trucks.