Survey Finds Many US Drivers Interested in Owning Self-Driving Cars

Almost three-quarters of U.S. drivers are interested in riding in a self-driving car, and 80 percent say they would pay extra for the new technology, according to a survey report.

AlixPartners surveyed 1,517 U.S. drivers to find that when presented with the attributes of self-driving cars, 73 percent said they would want autonomous vehicles to take over all their driving needs. Some of the survey respondents prefer to have the ability to take over control of their car.

Mark Wakefield, head of the consulting firm’s automotive practice, said 90 percent would be interested in using a self-driving car for daily commutes if they could occasionally take the wheel.

The survey findings come to differing conclusions than was found in other recent studies. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reported last month that it found that just 16 percent of Americans would prefer to ride in an autonomous vehicle; the university’s study also found that 46 percent wanted nothing to do with autonomous vehicles and 39 percent would accept a partially self-driving vehicle.

Previous surveys may have fostered a bias against autonomous vehicles by emphasizing worst-case scenarios, Wakefield said.

“Having some sort of control where you can pilot the vehicle seems to be quite important to people,” Wakefield said. “They love the autonomous stuff, but they just want the ability to control it in whatever situations they’re imagining they need that.”

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That preference could work against Google’s plan to offer fully self-driving cars without steering wheels, accelerators or brake pedals, he said. Yet Google and other Silicon Valley companies had a clear advantage when consumers were asked who they trust most to develop the software and protect the privacy of data from driverless cars. AlixPartners said 41 percent in its survey said they wanted Silicon Valley to develop the software, compared to 26 percent who preferred Japanese automakers, 17 percent who chose U.S. automakers, and 7 percent who favored European car companies.

Self-driving cars will hit an inflection point in 2020 when they begin arriving on roads, according to AlixPartners. By then, the market for self-driving technologies, such as systems that steer wandering cars back in their lanes, could surpass $20 billion, AlixPartners said.

The Detroit News