Do Consumers Want Self-Driving Cars?

Fewer crashes has been touted as one of the main benefits of self-driving cars. But is that enough to get consumers on the self-driving car bandwagon?


By now you’ve heard that self-driving cars are coming. Some of you have even seen them as Google is now testing them on the streets of Mountain View, Calif.

But here’s a question some researchers think isn’t being asked enough: do consumers want self-driving cars?

Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute asked 505 drivers from across the United States what level of vehicle automation they preferred in their cars. Here a breakdown of the responses:

  • 43.8 percent of respondents said none
  • 40.6 percent said they’d prefer partially self-driving features
  • Only 15.6 percent said they’d prefer completely self-driving cars

On top of most drivers not wanting completely autonomous cars, 32.7 percent of the respondents said they were moderately concerned about riding in a self-driving car, while 35.6 percent said they were very concerned.

Women were most likely to prefer the “no self-driving” option at 47.6 percent. For men, partially self-driving vehicles proved most popular at 41.2 percent.

Among respondents 60 and older, 50 percent said they didn’t want any self-driving capability, while just 11 percent want full autonomy. Among those 18 to 29, 37.5 percent didn’t want self-driving cars, while 17.1 percent were onboard with the idea.

We have to say, we’re pretty surprised by the results, even though it’s a small sample size. Especially about passengers being concerned about riding in a self-driving car. Fewer crashes has been touted as one of the main benefits of self-driving cars. And although a Google self-driving car was just involved in its first injury-causing accident, the company says its cars have not caused any of the collisions. Google self-driving car prototypes have been involved in 14 accidents in six years and about 1.9 million miles of testing and, according to Google, in 11 of the 14 the Google car was rear-ended.

So we thought we’d conduct our own scientific (OK, maybe not, since this is a robotics website) survey about whether or not you want self-driving cars. So take the poll below and let us know what you think.

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