Autonomous vehicle advocates argue that the technology has the potential to offer a wide variety of benefits, from improved safety and convenience, to greater efficiency. However, according to one recent study, U.S. drivers are less than keen on the idea of widespread autonomous vehicle adoption.
In a recent study between American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Technology and Public Purpose Project at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, U.S. drivers voiced their concern over sharing the road with fully autonomous vehicles.
Per the study, the type of autonomous vehicle (semi-truck, delivery vehicles) and the driving scenario (highway/freeway driving, local or neighborhood driving) did not have a significant impact on the unease felt by those studied.
|Sharing the road with…||Safer||No Difference||Less Safe||Unsure|
|Self-driving semi-trucks||11 percent||12 percent||53 percent||24 percent|
|Small, self-driving delivery vehicles||12 percent||19 percent||43 percent||26 percent|
|Self-driving vehicles on a highway or freeway||12 percent||15 percent||47 percent||24 percent|
|Self-driving vehicles on local on neighborhood roads||13 percent||17 percent||44 percent||26 percent|
Interestingly, the study also identified a few measures that would help to alleviate some of the anxiety, with 62 percent of survey respondents saying they would feel safer if autonomous vehicles were clearly marked as self-driving. A further 60 percent said they would feel safe with designated lanes for self-driving vehicles only, and another 31 percent said they would feel safe with restrictions on the time of day and/or days of the week when autonomous vehicles would be allowed to operate on public roads.
The survey was conducted between January 15th and 17th, 2021, using a probability-based panel representative of the U.S. household population overall. Most surveys were completed online, while some surveys were completed by phone. A total of 1,010 interviews were completed among U.S. adults.
As AAA points out, 38 U.S. states currently have active programs that allow autonomous vehicle testing on public roads. According to the recent survey, support for autonomous vehicle test programs was split, with 34 percent in favor, 36 opposed, and 31 percent unsure.
Those opposed to the programs were primarily concerned with safety. Who would be responsible in a self-driving vehicle crash was also a major concern, as was lack of clarity over who was overseeing the testing.
General Motors unveiled its first fully driverless production vehicle, Cruise Origin, in January of 2020. Cruise Origin is intended to provide all-electric, driverless transportation.