Imagine, if you will, Thomas Edison and Alfred P. Sloan in a hackathon. Well, venerable GM is the latest to go all-electric and has recently acquired a key sensor technology to deploy fleets of "robocars." And with a new partnership to test self-driving cars in San Francisco, Lyft joins the auto-electric carpool with Tesla, Ford, Uber, Intel and Samsung, which has a permit for testing on California highways. Forbes reports that over 1,700 startups aim to disrupt the automotive industry with the killer app of autonomous driving.
Standing in the way of electric avenue is safety. No shortage of media attention has been placed on the technology, but what about the driver? A deeper look into our data finds that people feel unsure of letting go of the wheel because they don’t know if they can be a safe autonomous driver. In 2016, the American Automobile Association (AAA) found that 54% of U.S. drivers felt less safe at the possibility of sharing the road with self-driving cars and 78% said they would be afraid of riding in a self-driving car.
In a recent Harris Poll (of which I'm CEO), nearly half of Americans (48%) already think self-driving car technology is safe. And more than a third (35%) see it as the future of driving. But a slight majority (52%) still fear for the driver’s safety, and 36% said they would never consider buying or leasing a self-driving car. This lack of confidence extends to 62% who are also fearful for pedestrians and 57% for other drivers. Earlier this year, research from Gartner found that people just want to be in control. In the U.S. and Germany, 55% of respondents would not even ride in a fully autonomous vehicle, while the majority (70%) would be comfortable riding in a partially autonomous vehicle. Still, according to AAA, 61% of consumers want to embrace this technology in their next vehicle. It just needs to be on their terms.
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