Americans wary of self-driving cars, finds survey

Self-driving cars are often spoken of as the next evolution in driving, but the majority of Americans are sceptical of the technology. In a Gallup survey, more than half of Americans said they are unlikely to use the vehicles.

From cutting emissions to reducing congestion, self-driving vehicles promise to protect the environment while at the same time revolutionize the transport industry. But for now at least, the majority of Americans aren’t buying into them.

According to a recent Northeastern University/Gallup survey of Americans’ attitudes towards artificial intelligence, 54% of Americans said they are unlikely to use self-driving cars. The apprehension goes down with age and education. College graduates are twice as likely to use a self-driving car than those without a college degree, and Americans aged 18 to 35 are three times as likely to let technology take the wheel than those 66 years of age or older.

An even higher number – 59% – indicated that they would be highly uncomfortable riding in self-driving cars. Less than a quarter place themselves at the other end of the scale, indicating they would be comfortable or extremely comfortable riding in such a car.

Americans are no more comfortable with autonomous trucks than they are with riding in self-driving vehicles themselves. More than six in ten adults said they would be extremely uncomfortable or uncomfortable sharing the road with self-driving trucks, compared with 20% who would be extremely comfortable or comfortable doing so.

These concerns are not shared by transport companies, many of which have invested more than $1 billion in 2017 alone into developing self-driving trucks.

Previous Gallup surveys have found a general tendency among Americans to underestimate their potential adoption of new technology. For example, in a 2000 Gallup survey on cellphone technology, nearly a quarter of U.S. adults said they would never get a cellphone. Today, these tiny gadgets are virtually ubiquitous.

Image credit: smoothgroover22 via Flickr

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