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Reuters Poll Finds American Drivers Still Aren't Interested in Autonomous Cars

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【Summary】The future of self-driving vehicles looks bleak, as Reuters’ latest poll reveals that half of the drivers in the U.S. think autonomous cars are more dangerous than regular human-operated vehicles.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 04, 2019 10:03 AM PT
Reuters Poll Finds American Drivers Still Aren't Interested in Autonomous Cars

Surveys are far from the most reliable source of information, but they do provide a decent, if not perfect, look at how a large amount of individuals feel about a certain topic. When it comes to autonomous cars, a lot of surveys have been done, with quite a few pointing toward how drivers are ready for a self-driving future. According to a recent survey that was conducted by Reuters, that's not the case. 


Are Autonomous Cars Safe?


In a survey that was conducted by Reuters and Ipsos, roughly half of the American respondents claimed that driverless cars are more dangerous than traditional vehicles. Almost 66 percent of surveyors stated that they would not purchase a fully self-driving car. While that's a staggering amount of people that aren't into autonomous vehicles, it's not necessarily a bad thing. Self-driving cars are still a few years away, despite companies aiming for 2020 as the prime date for the release of driverless technology. 


The bad news from the poll comes when the question of whether Americans are willing to pay extra for self-driving technology. In that instance, approximately 63 percent of respondents said that they were not interested in paying to have driverless features on their vehicle. Of those willing to pay, 41 percent stated they would not pay more than $2,000. 


Why is that bad news? Well automakers are currently in the phase of slowly introducing autonomous technology onto vehicles. The majority of automakers offer semi-autonomous features in the form of advanced safety tech that's standard. Adaptive cruse control, automatic emergency braking, and lane-keeping assist are just examples of tech that's standard on a lot of modern cars. While these features make vehicles safer, they're also ways for brands to test the waters with full-on autonomous cars. 


Why This Survey Is Bad News


The poll is also bad news for ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft. Those are steadfastly working on coming out with autonomous services that put drivers in a vehicle that can drive itself. Unfortunately, if people don't feel safe in a self-driving car, they won't use the service. For companies that are pouring billions into ferrying drivers around in driverless machines, it means they'll never recoup their money. 


According to Reuters, the latest survey is similar to one the outlet completed in 2018. 


"People are comfortable with things they know," said investor Chris Thomas. "When everybody understands the game-changing attributes of automated vehicles, how they can give you back all that time to read or work or sleep, they will start to ask about the value that recaptured time." 


The fact that there aren't a lot of autonomous vehicles around for Americans to interact with only ensures that they won't be able to get comfortable with self-driving cars anytime soon. 


Respondents also pointed toward government safety standards, which they said could be bolstered. "Somebody needs to be held accountable," said survey respondent Carla Ross. "Those cars shouldn't even go on the road until they can guarantee a certain percentage of safety." 

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