About one year ago, AAA released a study that showed 63 percent of those surveyed said they’d be scared to ride in a totally self-driving car. Although still high, that figure showed a enormous change over the previous year’s poll, where fully 78 percent of people were uncomfortable with the idea. A series of highly publicized accidents involving automated prototypes occurred over the last year, and this could have played a part in AAA’s poll now showing a rise in the number of people afraid to ride in a completely driverless car. The figure is currently at 71 percent.
AAA noted a couple of factors that influenced people’s comfort with some amount of automation. The first is vulnerability to contemporary driver-assistance features such as adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. Respondents who currently have a car with one of those features were 68 percent more likely to trust them than those who don’t. The second factor involved the technology being applied only in a limited capacity. A total of 53 percent were comfortable with the idea of using low-speed, short-distance automatic transport such as an airport train, while 44 percent said they’d be comfortable with autonomous delivery vehicles.
“Automated-vehicle technology is evolving on a very public stage and, as a result, it is impacting how customers feel about it,” said Greg Brannon, AAA’s thoughts of Automotive Engineering and Industry Relations. “Having the opportunity to interact with partially or fully automated-vehicle technology will help remove some of the mystery for customers and open the door for greater acceptance. ”
Interestingly, the study also showed that 55 percent believe that by 2029, most cars will be capable of driving themselves. As AAA points out, that’s probably overly optimistic. Additionally, it probably shows a widespread misunderstanding of how complex the technology already is. Despite Tesla offering a “Full Self-Driving Capability” bundle , its cars can’t actually drive themselves. And while some prototype from several companies can handle suburban driving in towns with perfect weather conditions, the technology can’t manage rain, much less snow. We also have yet to find any demonstration of a car that could recover from hydroplaning or loss of traction on an icy street.
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