Autonomous Cars: Even the Millennials are Losing Faith

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In light of the recent crashes involving Tesla and Uber self-driving cars, two studies, one from AAA and the other from CarGurus, have been released showing that about three-quarters of consumers do not trust current autonomous driving technology.  

The first study, conducted by AAA, was a 1,014-person phone poll done in April, shortly after the fatal self-driving Uber crash in Tempe, Arizona and the Autopilot Tesla crash in Mountain View, California. The poll found that 73% of the participants are afraid to ride in a fully autonomous vehicle – a 10% increase from last year. This is compared to the mere 20% that said they do trust the autonomous driving technology. This is not, however, the most notable finding to come from the poll. AAA discovered that 64% of millennials are too afraid to ride in a fully autonomous car, which is a 15% increase from just four months prior.  

CarGurus’ survey consisted of 1,873 vehicle owners ranging between 18 and 65 years old. The survey, also done in April, found that 84% of the participants said they won’t or probably won’t own a fully autonomous car in the next five years. However, when asked which company they trusted the most to develop safe autonomous car, 24% said Tesla. It was surprising that Tesla received the highest trust score (compared to Toyota’s 9% and General Motors’ 6%) despite the recent accidents in Texas and California. 

Both AAA’s and CarGurus’ surveys had paradoxical results. 55% of the respondents in AAA’s survey said they want semi-autonomous features in their next car, despite the opposition to the technology. Car Gurus also found that safety is the top reason people want autonomous driving (64%) and the top reason why they do not want it (81%). 

Because of the novelty of autonomous driving technology, it is subject to a much higher level of scrutiny. Hopefully, it is not enough to slow down what could be a very revolutionary technology. It is just going to take some time.