Drivers Aren’t as Interested in Self-Driving Cars as We Thought

With electric vehicles rushing to the market to fill a gap that we always imagined the future would have, it only makes sense that the next major step for the automotive industry is cars that drive themselves. Autonomous vehicles, touchless driving, driverless cars — whatever you want to call it, we have a certain expectation that cars will eventually be capable of driving themselves. For commuters, this might seem like a dream come true, and to car enthusiasts, a true nightmare, but a recent study has shown that drivers might not be as eager for self-driving cars as we might think.

Consumers are prioritizing safety

According to Consumer Reports, an annual survey conducted by AAA revealed the drivers aren’t as interested in self-driving cars as you might think. With so many new tech features that allow our cars to “think” and physically react without input from the driver, it seems that cars are headed in a steady direction of being able to drive with minimal, and perhaps eventually no, user input. There are a number of concerns and obstacles that will prove challenging for this concept, and consumers aren’t unaware of these potential problems.

A man sits behind the wheel of a StarLine automated car as it undergoes street testing
A man is seen in the driver’s seat of a StarLine driverless (automated) car equipped with lidars, cameras and other sensors, as it undergoes testing on the streets of St Petersburg | Peter Kovalev\TASS, Getty Images

A focus on fine-tuning

According to the survey conducted, only 22% of respondents shared that they felt manufacturers should be focusing on developing technology for self-driving cars. Instead, many of the participants seemed to be more interested in technology that makes their driving experience safer. In the past decade alone, technology such as automatic emergency braking and blind-spot detection has become more and more common in cars, and these systems not only relieve stress on the driver, they genuinely provide a safer driving experience.

A look inside of a robotically driven taxi
The Baidu Robo-taxis invite citizens to take for free | TPG, Getty Images

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A new future for self-driving cars

Automotive enthusiasts might cringe at the idea of having a vehicle that requires little to no user input, but it seems that the average driver seems pretty okay with the idea overall. In fact, the average driver might even look at the task of driving as more of a chore, so it makes sense that having technology that improves this ‘chore’ would make consumers happy — as long as the technology is safe to use.

“Surveys show that people are very satisfied with systems that help make them better drivers, rather than taking the job away from them”

Jake Fisher, Senior Director, Consumer Reports
A man uses his phone as he sits in the driver's seat of a self-driving car
Ramiz Mamedov, chairman of the Moove! Company is pictured in a self-driving car ahead of delivering orders from a store | Sergei Karpukhin\TASS, Getty Images

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We are in a unique moment of the automotive industry as car technology is booming, with new features and safety tech hitting the market to resolve customer problems year after year. Whether we are looking at a take over of autonomous cars in the near future or the distant one, this survey goes to show that drivers have bigger concerns for automotive manufacturers to tackle first.