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Apr 17

Self-Driving Cars Scary to 30 Percent of Americans

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Waymo self-driving car

Image Credit: Waymo

HarrisX poll reveals millennials only slightly receptive to self-driving cars

Both conglomerate and independent automakers are scurrying to their drawing boards to design the next best big thing on four wheels. And there’s no shortage of other players willing to jump onto the high-tech bandwagon. That’s particularly true in the case of self-driving cars, which despite the odd bang-up (including a passenger death in Arizona), did well in testing situations in California and has the ride-sharing market salivating with glee over the applications of these moto-robots.

Playing it more cautiously, however, has been the car rental industry as it eyes that self-driving landscape from the sidelines. And possibly for good reason, if results from a HarrisX poll are enough to convince users about thinking twice before going the autonomous route.

Findings from the research company’s April report reveal that roughly one in three Americans would be reluctant to be a passenger in a driverless vehicle. Additionally, 90 percent of citizens surveyed believe that technical glitches might still be present by the time full-scale rollouts become a reality. Some 70 percent of those polled are concerned that autonomous vehicle development is taking place faster than expected, creating a perception that hastiness plays heavily into the manufacturing and distribution of these cars.

Those findings are somewhat more favorable to self-driving cars than a similar March report issued by the American Automobile Association which stated that some 71 percent of survey participants would be terrified to step into a self-driving transporter. The most receptive demographic were millennials, although their numbers demonstrating a willingness to be driven by such a vehicle were still less than half of naysayers in that same group.

Autonomous vehicle manufacturers have long been hip to those trepidations from the public, long before either report was made public. One industry leader, Google’s Waymo, even teamed up with several similar organizations including Cruise Automation to create an awareness campaign to lessen the fears associated with their futuristic product. Not to be outdone, a lobby group called the Partnership for Automated Vehicle Education revealed plans to conduct test rides and numerous workshops to sway public opinion.

So far, the big car rentals haven’t been so eager to get into the autonomous sweepstakes, since they cater to older demographics, least receptive to that technology. Enterprise linked up with driverless technology firm Voyage in June, but little has been reported on that initiative. A recent Redfield report revealed that Apple was teaming up with Hertz for an autonomous project, although the study added autonomous vehicles were not going to grow in popularity between now and 2015.

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