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Autonomous cars field-tested with public in Tampa, three other cities.

SAE Gauges Public’s View of AV Technology

While only 6% of survey respondents had ridden in a self-driving car before, 82% already were enthusiastic about the technology and nearly 10% reported a higher level of enthusiasm after their ride.

An SAE International survey reveals general support for autonomous cars among people who have ridden in one.

The automotive-industry group surveyed 1,395 participants who took more than 2,000 rides in self-driving cars between November 2017 and April 2019 in Los Angeles, Detroit and two locations in Florida. Participants were surveyed both before and after riding, engaged with interactive displays and spoke with experts. Responses were weighted by age and gender.

The so-called Demo Days allowed the public “to experience the technology first-hand and to foster informed decision-making while capturing insights into public sentiment,” SAE says.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • While only 6% of survey respondents had ridden in a self-driving car before, 82% already were enthusiastic about the technology and nearly 10% reported a higher level of enthusiasm after their ride.
  • Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed would seek out a ride in an autonomous car in the future, and 76% thought a self-driving-car experience would be similar to, or better than, a human-piloted one.
  • With 72% of participants saying after their ride that they see advanced driver-assistance systems-enabled cars have the same or similar capabilities as self-driving cars, 78% expect autonomous cars will be routinely transporting people on public roads by 2028.
  • Perception for liability is nearly split, with 46% believing primary liability for self-driving cars rests with the manufacturer; 43% responding with the owner/operator; and 6% saying the rider.
  • An overwhelming 92% of respondents said a rider’s ability to activate an emergency stop is a requirement in an AV. But only 50% of people said if the emergency stop was activated the car should identify the closest area out of traffic and stop there, while 32% said the car should immediately stop in place and 10% said the car cannot resume driving until given authorization.
  • Riders also want to easily identity autonomous cars on public roads, with 63% of respondents preferring a lighted car on the vehicle exterior; 36% favoring an in-vehicle display; and 16% wanting text displayed on the vehicle exterior.
  • Asked what they thought the greatest benefit of AVs would be, 37% of respondents said eliminating or reducing deaths due to accidents; 31% said increasing mobility for the elderly (below) and those with disabilities; and 12% said reducing travel times or commutes.

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