A survey of 1,200 adults, taken between February 27 and March 5, from across the United States and conducted by the Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE) has found that “nearly three in four Americans say autonomous vehicles are not ready for primetime.” In addition, 48% say they would never get in a self-driving taxi and 25% say they would “trust AVs more if they only traveled at less than 25 mph.” Just over half of those surveyed said they would trust autonomous vehicles more if, at first, they were used to move cargo, not people.
Possible causes cited for this hesitance in the adoption of autonomous vehicles are unfamiliarity with the technology and confusion over the definition of a “driverless car.” People also seemed to prefer the term “self-driving car” more than “autonomous vehicle” or “driverless car.”
PAVE is a coalition of industry, non-profit and academic institutions that aim to educate the public and policymakers about autonomous vehicles and the technology that powers them. The survey results show, according to PAVE, that self-driving vehicle technologies, the automakers and the developers working on them face “serious perception challenges.” In addition to seeing driverless cars as “not ready for primetime,” only 34% in the poll agreed that “the advantages of autonomous vehicles outweigh any potential disadvantages.”
PAVE also surveyed an additional 200 adults with disabilities or mobility issues and found that, overall, they were slightly more positive about autonomous vehicles than those without disability or mobility issues. It has been suggested that this could be due to automakers promoting the benefits of driverless cars and robotics technology for the disabled and elderly for a longer period of time. The group reported a slightly higher understanding of self-driving cars and how they work and were more likely to be early adopters of autonomous vehicles than the larger group although, they were still cautious.
In the study, 60% stated that they would have greater trust in autonomous vehicles if they “understood better how the technology works,” and 58% would have great trust if they “had a chance to experience an AV ride” first hand. PAVE believes that educating the public about autonomous vehicles is the key to closing that gap. All in all, the study showed that people would prefer Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) that support a human driver who always has full control. Drivers who reported owning vehicles equipped with ADAS responded overall more positively with 82% of these drivers claiming to have a good understanding of how their safety tech worked and 75% expressing enthusiasm for the new features in their next vehicle.