80% of drivers still don't trust an autonomous pilot at the wheel

Even though one in four people say they have broken the law while driving, they still have a long way to go before trusting an auto-pilot, according to a new report.

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Image: iStock/metamorworks

Self-driving vehicles are no longer a thing of the future, as autonomous buses, taxis and cars are beginning to hit the road. And despite some hesitancy, there are signs that the public may be opening up to autonomous vehicles--as we recently reported, 62% of people surveyed believe autonomous vehicles are the way of the future, according to a consumer Mobility Report. COVID-19 has had a positive impact, as city planning and safety in public spaces haves forced many to reimagine the role of autonomous vehicles in our lives.

Still, putting actual trust in these vehicles is still a major obstacle.

According to a report on Wednesday from the software company Lynx, 80% of drivers still don't quite trust an autonomous driver over a human one. While 52% of those surveyed say they are excited by the concept of autonomous vehicles, and 72% predict that most people will use them by 2041, they're not ready to get into one--yet. There's still a third (30%) of respondents who are not sure that autonomous vehicles are the way forward, and 14% of those surveyed are downright afraid of them.

Humans are, admittedly, not the best drivers--a full quarter (26%) of those surveyed confessed that they had broken the law while driving. But that's not quite enough to let them cede control. Only a third (36%) would be actually willing to let an autonomous driver take over at the wheel.

SEE: Transportation trends: Self-driving vehicles, hyperloop, cars communicating with crosswalks, AI, and more (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Most respondents felt differently about self-driving vehicles when it came to public transportation, however. Over half, 57%, would hop on an autonomous train, bus or taxi, and about the same amount said they were eager to see autonomous planes.

Here are some other big takeaways:

Ownership

Respondents were divided on ownership, but 50% said they would like to own one in the future, and 26% would not rule it out.

Multitasking

In the age of digital work, having the ability to work while in the car was a major reason (58%) that respondents would consider it; having the chance to make more progress on the road without stopping was another reason (53%), as was eating on the road (47%).

Taking risks

Just under half of those surveyed prefer sky-diving to autonomous driving, and 34% would even jump in the water with sharks than test out this new technology. Safety is still a major concern, with 65% of respondents believing the testing has not been adequate, and 35% not seeing these vehicles as safe.

"The future of self-driving automobiles on the roads and flying taxis in the sky might be further than we once thought, but it is inspiring to learn about consumer sentiment toward these technological advancements," said Arun Subbarao, vice president of engineering and technology at Lynx, in the press release. "It is critical that we listen to their concerns as well while these are being developed so that we can teach consumers about the safety that is being integrated and ensure the proof is in the testing and the results. There is nothing more important than making this new transportation secure."

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