Drivers are intrigued by the benefits of self-driving cars, but they remain concerned about the safety and cost such vehicles could introduce into the marketplace, according to a study published by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in late July.

56 percent of respondents said they viewed self-driving cars in a positive manner.

In the United States, 56 percent of responders said they viewed self-driving cars in a positive manner, though 27 percent had neutral feelings and 16 percent looked at the technology as a negative thing.

There's also a slight gender gap toward embracing autonomous cars, as 59 percent of men had a positive view of them, while 54 percent of women did. Though the numbers are close, researchers found women consistently responded with less enthusiasm about the technology and registered more concerns over its safety.

Still, both genders are interested, and more than two-thirds of all survey-takers believe self-driving cars could lead to fewer and less severe crashes; 70 percent thought the technology could improve fuel economy. The study also found nearly half of Americans believe it would ease traffic congestion and make for shorter travel times.

Despite the potential benefits, motorists worry about legal liability, having their locations tracked, sharing the roads with other self-driving cars and the potential that weather conditions could interfere with the car's ability to operate itself.

Additionally, 73 percent of Americans were concerned self-driving cars might not perform as well as human drivers.

73 percent of Americans were concerned self-driving cars might not perform as well as human drivers..

"It cuts both ways," researcher Brandon Schoettle said. "They're optimistic about the benefits, but concerned about using all of these [autonomous] things."

That's underscored by the finding that 36 percent of responders would continue to watch the road while riding in a self-driving car, and 23 percent wouldn't even ride in one. The most-popular activity for motorists would be reading (11 percent) or texting/talking on the phone (10 percent).

More than half of responders also said they wouldn't pay more for an autonomous car, and only a quarter said they would be willing to pay at least $2,000 for the technology.

The study also looked at the views of motorists in the United Kingdom and Australia, and the findings were similar to Americans' response, though US drivers expressed greater skepticism about the technology.

Self-driving cars mirror other technologies, Schoettle said, as many early adopters and tech-savvy consumers have expressed interest in it, while the public at large remains more reserved.

"The initial response with most people is quite muted," he said. "There's a kind of curiosity that we saw when we talked about the benefits and the concerns."

The study comes as several states have approved testing of autonomous cars on public roads, with California being the latest to green-light it earlier this year. Google also has announced plans to build 100 prototypes of its self-driving car, with plans to begin a pilot program in the next few years.


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  • 39 Comments
      jphyundai
      • 4 Months Ago
      Google should never make another car ever if the picture represents the best that Google can come up with.
      Shahul X
      • 4 Months Ago
      This is the future, get over it. I love driving and cars...I'm sure you do as well if you read autoblog... but traffic stink and there is no fun to bed had in any corvette, cobra,ferrari,brz,miata etc....in stop and go traffic.... most traffic is caused by morons.... QUICK!!! Qhats 10387 plus 9843??? Oh it took you a minute to add it up??? A calculator did it in a millisecond... Drive to work and the grocery store in a pod and lets take our lotus/caterhams/BAC one's and ariel atoms to the track for the weekends!!!
        john m
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Shahul X
        If you're trying to add big numbers while driving then you will probably need an autonomous car. Oh, and the calculator did it in a millisecond, but a human had to enter the data. Otherwise the calculator just sits there and does.... nothing.
      Rex Seven
      • 4 Months Ago
      I'm a little disappointed in the filtering, but whatever. With freedom (and life) comes responsibility. We cannot make the world accident free. It seems to me that the more we try to insulate people from that the more helpless (and dangerous) they become. You know, idiot proofing makes better idiots. It is painful to listen to the world today.
      Michael Scoffield
      • 4 Months Ago
      But how can you mix autonomous cars with human driving. Just look at those Russian dash cam videos and see how often fast driver reflexes saves someone's life. No autonomous car comes close to the speed of human reflexes, reason why no autonomous car can come close to beating a track lap time established by a human driver.
        r_r
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Michael Scoffield
        We can come up with several advantages to human driving, but the fast reflex is not one of them. Computer can make decision in microseconds, compared to human's hundreds of milliseconds. And human only looks and process information that looks like most important object (like human jumping in front of a car) while computer scans every object within its range and make the best possible decision hundreds of thousands times faster than human.
          john m
          • 4 Months Ago
          @r_r
          A computer may have "faster reflexes" but it's totally reactionary to situations. A human can perceive trouble and therefor can be proactive about staying out of trouble before it happens.
      J W
      • 4 Months Ago
      I only have two concerns with these cars.

      1.  What happens to the car when there is a system failure?  It is a product built by humans, it will fail at some point, how will it react once the car realizes it isn't working as designed?

      2.  When there is a failure and an accident occurs, who's at fault?  The driver for not being able to react to the system failure or the manufacture? 

      As a driver on the road, when one of these has a failure, how can I read what the car is doing to avoid being part of the accident?  With a human driver you can see body language that might help you avoid being part of the accident.  A car doesn't have that ability.
      Larry Litmanen
      • 4 Months Ago
      Education system in USA is horrible. So many come here and complain that Camry, Corolla, Accord, Sonata are appliances and they do not understand why people buy them. These very same people come here later on and say that there's no demand for self driving cars and no one will ever buy them.
      carguy1701
      • 4 Months Ago

      They should be.  Self driving cars aren't the answer.  Better driver training is.  If that means that the son or daught of Jon and Suzy Q. Public doesn't get their license because they couldn't be arsed to keep their eyes on the road and ignore that text message, tough shit.

        Larry Litmanen
        • 4 Months Ago
        @carguy1701

        You can be the best driver in the world but he get into an accident if you play on the phone. You can't teach someone not to do something they know they should not be doing.


        Look at say cigarette smoking or HIV infection, we know that smoking leads to cancer and heart decease and yet people smoke. We know that HIV is preventable by wearing rubber, 10 year old know that these days, and yet people get it.


        Knowing WHAT to do does not mean you will do it.


        We tried driver ed, now we will try tech.

          carguy1701
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          Then let natural selection take its course and weed the stupid out of the gene pool.
          carguy1701
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          And...? Autonomous cars are not only not the answer, they aren't even CLOSE to being ready for public consumption. Stay mad.
          Larry Litmanen
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          Tried that for over 100 years now, also those people take with themselves innocent people. But i guess that was too difficult to see for you.
      Brian Regan
      • 4 Months Ago

      I can't imagine what sort of evidence they'd have to find in order to convince me autonomous cars are a good idea. 

        Larry Litmanen
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Brian Regan
        Maybe it's not for you. But don't you worry, you'll come around when insurance on a non self driving car will be $500 a month. hahahahahahahahahahahahaaaa
      Rex Seven
      • 4 Months Ago
      Here is one thing I want to know. How does the computer decide if the small creature that just ran in front of the car is a Raccoon (and thus should be run over if you are driving something it won't damage) or a kid that should be avoided at ALL cost including running into another a car, a pole, a ravine... almost anything.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Rex Seven

        Face recognition, but it's not always perfect. I probably will mistake AG Holder for a rat.

          carguy1701
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Larry Litmanen
          You do realize that attempting to harm a government official is a one-way ticket to life in prison, right?
        bored2heck
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Rex Seven
        Most people would be unable to do this as well.
        Bobby D
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Rex Seven
        By the size (and speed of movement) of the Infrared signature. Unless it's one huge slow squirrel or one tiny/quick child. 
          Rex Seven
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Bobby D

          Size and speed won't do it.  Maybe face recognition would work.  When computers get "smart" enough to have the A.I. to decipher these type of things they will take over.  I think it is all a bad idea.  And I for one will WANT to drive myself until I die.  Hopefully that won't take that long.  The lack of freedom now is only marginally better than having to live with all of the F-tards that want a socialist techno society.

      Winnie Jenkems
      • 4 Months Ago
      It looks like an egg and a koala. No.
      Landy630
      • 4 Months Ago
      http://www.obdvip.com/ http://www.obdvip.com/launch-x431-tool.html http://www.obdvip.com/porsche-piwis-tester-ii.html
      SPcamert
      • 4 Months Ago
      The safety and fuel economy increases as related to autonomous cars really only works in two scenarios: 1. They have their own roads or 2. They own the roads. The problem is that we as humans need to try to predict our own behavior in the programming of how the car handles situations and inherently we as a species are unpredictable. That means that we could probably program about 99.9% of the situations that the car would experience into the system but that .01% is the thing that everyone worries about. The only real way to get around that is to make autonomous cars the only ones on the road. There are a lot of things inherent to the way we drive as humans that result is poor economy, traffic congestion, and accidents and almost, if not all, of them are decision-based. We decide to wait a few extra seconds because we're not sure we can make a gap, we decide to drive drunk or drowsy, we decide to exceed the optimal aerodynamic speed for our cars or on the flip side decide to drive much slower than everyone else. If autonomous cars are the only things on the road they'll be able to exploit gaps that we can't judge, drive safely even when we're smashed in the car, and maintain a speed that's both optimal for fuel economy and road conditions. None of it is likely until we can make the decision that they're going to be the majority of personal transport.
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