Despite safety concerns about equipment failure, a majority of drivers on three continents have high expectations for autonomous vehicles.
“Recent advances in autonomous vehicle technology have helped bring self-driving vehicles to the forefront of public interest,” said Brandon Schoettle of the Univ. of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. “Self-driving vehicles are commonly envisioned to be the ultimate, full embodiment of connected-vehicle technology, an area that is currently the focus of several large research projects and government support.”
Building on an earlier study on public opinion regarding self-driving vehicles in the U.S., Great Britain and Australia, Schoettle and UMTRI colleague Michael Sivak expanded their survey to include more than 1,700 respondents in India, China and Japan.
They found that about 87% of respondents in China and 84% in India have positive views regarding autonomous and self-driving vehicles, compared to 62% in Australia, 56% in the U.S., 52% in the U.K. and 43% in Japan. Half of the Japanese respondents were neutral, while the U.S. registered the highest percentage of negative views (16%) among the six countries.
According to the study, more than 80% of respondents in China, India and Japan believe that self-driving vehicles would reduce both the number and severity of crashes, compared to roughly 70% in the U.S., U.K. and Australia.
The Chinese and Indians are also more optimistic that autonomous technology would lead to less traffic congestion (72% of respondents in both countries agree) and shorter travel times (74% in India, 68% in China). On the other hand, 56% of Japanese respondents and less than 50% in the U.S., U.K. and Australia believe it would ease congestion. Likewise, less than 50% of respondents in those countries agree that it would shorten travel times.
Although more respondents in China and India expressed favorable views regarding the benefits of self-driving cars, the two countries differ when it comes to concerns about riding in a completely autonomous vehicle. About 79% of Indians said they would be very or moderately concerned, compared to 49% of Chinese. Among the other countries, the results were 67% for the U.S., 57% for both Australia and the U.K., and 52% for Japan.
Chinese and Indian respondents were more concerned about equipment failures, system and vehicle security (from hackers), data privacy (location and destination tracking) and interacting with pedestrians and bicycles than those in the study’s other countries. Nonetheless, much higher percentages of Chinese (96%) and Indians (95%) are at least slightly interested in owning a self-driving vehicle, compared to those in Japan (77%), Australia (68%), the U.S. (66%) and the U.K. (63%).
“Respondents in the six countries surveyed, while expressing high levels of concern about riding in vehicles equipped with this technology, mostly feel positive about self-driving vehicles, have optimistic expectations of the benefits and generally desire self-driving vehicle technology,” Schoettle said.
Source: Univ. of Michigan