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U.S. drivers not much concerned with self-driving cars, study confirms

July 17, 2015
There are two major high-concept ideas in the automobile world today: vehicle automation and connected cars. The two are related, and indeed are linked in some ways. Vehicle automation, a.k.a. self-driving cars, rely on network connections to communicate with other vehicles on the road.
But if U.S. drivers have a choice, they will take the connected cars and leave the self-driving vehicles in the garage.
The latest study from researchers Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute surveyed drivers’ preferences among various levels of vehicle automation, including preferences for interacting with and overall concern about riding in self-driving vehicles. The researchers received 505 responses to their survey.
Here are the survey’s main findings:
• The most frequent preference for vehicle automation was for no self-driving capability, followed by partially self-driving vehicles, with completely self-driving vehicles being the least preferred choice.
• Concern for riding in self-driving vehicles was higher for completely self-driving vehicles than for partially self-driving vehicles.
• Respondents overwhelmingly want to be able to manually control completely self-driving vehicles when desired.
• Preferences were generally divided between touchscreens or voice commands to input route or destination information for completely self-driving vehicles.
• Most respondents prefer to be notified of the need to take control of a partially self-driving vehicle with a combination of sound, vibration, and visual warnings.
The survey’s results match up well with a similar study done by the same team last year. U.S. drivers are not ready yet to give up their time spent creeping along in a miles-long traffic jam with their hands on the wheel, their eyes on the road and their temperatures rising. The day probably will come around though.