Survey Finds Four Out of Five Want Driver Control in Autonomous Vehicles

Eighty percent of surveyed consumers don’t want to own a car in the future missing steering wheels and pedals.

A Future Autonomous Vehicle Driver Study commissioned by Kelley Blue Book found four out of five people think a human driver should be able to take control of self-driving cars. While a few companies, including Google and Ford, would like to see fully autonomous vehicle on roads, most consumers want to have the option of controlling their autonomous vehicle.

About 26 percent of those surveyed would be interesting in purchasing or leasing a self-driving car by 2020 as long as they can take it over. One in five (20 percent) are interested in partial autonomy wile one in eight (13 percent) would be interested in a fully autonomous vehicle.

“They’re not really ready for a fully autonomous vehicle,” said Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

The study assumes all levels of autonomy will be available in the next four years. Automakers have made more commitments to autonomous vehicle technologies this year, including working with ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

The responses are based on guidelines for six levels of automaton, on a zero-to-five point scale. Level 5 would mean full autonomous with no option for human drivers to take control of the vehicles.

The vast majority of vehicles on the road today are considered level 0 and level 1 “modern vehicles,” according to the Kelley Blue Book study.

“People definitely feel like level 4 (full autonomy with human control available) is the sweet spot,” Lindland said. “They want a vehicle that can drive itself, but then there’s also times they want to drive.”

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The study was conducted by the Vital Findings research firm. Findings were based on an online survey of more than 2,200 people age 12 to 64, and the survey was conducted during the week of May 20.

That was more than a month before news coverage of the driver fatality from a Florida collision that may have been caused by Tesla’s Autopilot system. Autopilot would be considered a level 3 system in the study.

General Motors plans to release Super Cruise, its level-3 competitor to the Autopilot system, in 2017. GM has said it will keep steering wheels and other human-controlled components in cars for the foreseeable future.

Being able to demonstrate the system’s safety is very important to GM, Chairman and CEO Mary Barra told reporters in June.

“We think that having that capability when the steering wheel and the pedals are still in the vehicle is a very good way to demonstrate and prove the safety,” she said.

Ford is going in another direction. In August, the automaker announced plans to have a fully driverless car without a steering wheel or pedals in 2021. The cars would be available only for commercial applications like ride-sharing in major cities at first, Ford said.

The KBB study did find that for those currently using ride-share services, they’d rather have a driver onboard who can take over – about 40 percent of survey respondents.

That compares to 28 percent of ride share users who would opt for full autonomy.

“Even among those ride-share users, we’re still seeing level 4 as the peak, or sweet spot,” Lindland said. “It’s just a running theme that we found.”

The Detroit News