Why Are People Becoming Less Comfortable With Autonomous Cars?

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Recent crashes may have something to do with it.

If traditional media outlets are to be believed, autonomous cars are right around the corner. Soon we will all be riding around in pods that drive themselves. Since we get to test the latest and greatest in self-driving technology first hand, we are far more bullish on the timetable for autonomous cars, and it appears that consumers feel the same way. Consumer confidence in autonomous cars has been slipping, despite a push from automakers. Automotive News reports that nearly half of all consumers would not buy a fully autonomous car, which is up from around 30% two years ago.

This figure comes from 1,250 consumers that were questioned in a Cox Automotive consumer attitude study. In the same study, the number of people who believe that roads would be safer if all vehicles were fully autonomous dropped by 18% in just two years. In fact, 85% of respondents believe that a car should always have a steering wheel with the ability to take manual control. So why are consumers so afraid of autonomous cars? Well, all of the recent crashes may have something to do with it.

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The recent fatal accident involving a self-driving Volvo XC90 from Uber did a lot to damage consumer confidence. This year we also witnessed an autonomous Ford Mustang attempt the Goodwood Hillclimb and crash into a bale of hay on the way up. Consumers are becoming more aware of the capabilities of autonomous cars, as evidenced by a 24% increase in awareness compared to two years ago. Despite that awareness, people are more apprehensive than ever, which just proves what we've been saying all along - we are still a long way from mainstream self-driving cars.


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