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Study Finds Americans Do Not Want to Rely on Autonomous Cars

November 18, 2022

According to a news report published on, a study shows that Americans do not want to depend on autonomous, driverless vehicles. Autonomous vehicles use sensors, motors, and artificial intelligence to operate while allowing drivers to work on other tasks as they travel. However, Americans are stating that they still prefer to drive themselves to work instead of being driven by autonomous cars. The study was published in the travel journal, "Transportation."

Researchers from the University of Washington executed the study. The study researchers conducted a survey and discovered that the "perceived cost of driving oneself to work is lower than that of a driverless car." This interesting opinion reflects the overall public opinion about how burdensome a typical trip is to consumers. In other words, the average person who answered the survey found driverless cars "to be more burdensome than driving themselves." 

The first self-driving car was developed by google and was intended for commercial-only use. The vehicle uses Artificial intelligence to maneuver the vehicle around California roadways and can even successfully navigate San Francisco's famous Lombard Street. Several other automakers have begun autonomous car development. Tesla, Ford, Uber, General Motors, and Nissan have invested billions into the development of autonomous vehicles. However, on October 26, 2022, Ford decided to drop its effort to develop its first fully self-driving vehicle.   

Although auto manufacturers are dumping billions of dollars into self-driving technologies, Americans want a real, human driver at the steering wheel.

The researchers surveyed over 500 Americans across the United States, and they asked the study participants to choose between a ride-hailing service or a personal car for a 15-mile trip. Then 50% of the participants were told that their ride-hailing service would be driverless. The researchers then explained how much the travel time for each trip would cost the participant. The team discovered that the study respondents usually preferred taking a ride-share service over driving themselves when ride-hailing services saved them $4 per hour. However, participants perceived riding in an automated vehicle would sufficiently stress them out.

The team of researchers stated that they were not surprised by the results since autonomous cars are not commercially available, and people have yet to become familiar with the technology. Fully autonomous vehicles are not available commercially for several reasons. First, these cars rely on sensors to track other cars, manage speed, and navigate direction. But these sensors do not work in adverse weather conditions, during heavy traffic, or can read road signs that have graffiti on them. For autonomous vehicles to function safely, they must have sensors that work in all environments.

Safety experts believe that the current capability of AI to process sensor feedback needs to be improved. Of course, AI will eventually be so sophisticated that it will operate as efficiently as humans. Moreover, there are no laws that cover driverless cars. 

The other problem driverless vehicles face is the lack of public confidence. Several accidents involving driverless vehicles have made the national news. In 2018, an Uber car that was driving in autonomous mode hit and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. So, there is no certain future for autonomous driving technology. In fact, the trend seems to show that both companies and the public are losing interest in fully, autonomous driving vehicles. 

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