ALBEMARLE COUNTY, VA (WRIC) – More self-driving cars continue to hit the roads, but a new survey from AAA shows most Americans would not feel safe riding in one.
Only one in 10 drivers would feel comfortable riding in a driverless vehicle, according to the survey. The survey also shows 28% of Americans do not know how they feel about the technology.
“It makes sense that we are unsure of or uncomfortable with technology that we don’t understand,” says Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Martha Meade.
Perrone Robotics, a company based in Albemarle County, is working to change perceptions around self-driving vehicles. Paul Perrone, founder and CEO of the company, understands the hesitation found in the survey.
“It’s very accurate. I think a lot of people who haven’t been in one of these vehicles are kind of nervous about the loss of control,” he says.
However, Meade says there are some things that would make people feel more comfortable.
“If there’s a backup driver, if the technology had been rigorously tested and, interestingly, if they had seen or experienced the technology,” Meade said.
According to the survey, 72% of adults would feel safer riding in a self-driving car if they had the ability to take over control if something went wrong and 69% would feel safer if there was a human backup driver. About half would feel safer knowing the car had passed rigorous testing and inspections and 42% would feel safer after seeing or experiencing a demonstration before getting into the car.
Perrone Robotics saw perceptions change after they held a three-month pilot program in Albemarle County last year, taking 750 passengers on hundreds of rides without any safety incidents.
“After getting in the vehicle and seeing it navigate through intersections and it being a smooth ride, people started to just sit back and enjoy their first autonomous vehicle ride ever,” says Perrone.
He says the company continues to deploy the self-driving shuttles to other cities across the country where they are being tested by the public.
The survey found consumers want more information about these vehicles as well, with 57% of drivers saying they want to understand who would be legally responsible in the event of a crash with a self-driving vehicle. Half want to know about laws to make sure these vehicles are safe and half want to know how vulnerable the cars would be to hackers.
There are semi-automated vehicles on the road today, but a fully automated fleet is still decades away, according to AAA.