Friday 1st June 2018
Would you travel in a self-driving car?

Survey reveals fear of robot rides has risen, with 73% saying they wouldn't trust an autonomous vehicle.

Phoebe Weston, MailOnline, reports:

Consumer trust in self-driving cars has tumbled according to a new survey that found 73 per cent of people would be too afraid to ride in an autonomous vehicle.

The US survey found faith in the technology had plummeted by ten per cent from the end of 2017 as a result of two high-profile deaths in March.

Research suggests that in the long-term self-driving cars are set to drastically reduce deaths by eliminating human error but it seems consumers are yet to be convinced.

The issue of AI in self-driving cars flared up following the death of a women hit but a self-driving Uber and a man killed while using his Tesla Model X's autopilot feature in March this year.

A survey by the American Automobile Association looked at 1,014 people and was conducted between 5 to 8 April, just weeks after the two highly-publicised deaths.

According to the survey, consumer confidence has dropped the most among young adults between 20 and 37 years old.

Although they were still the most likely to feel safe, 64 per cent now said they would be afraid to get in a self-driving car, up from 49 per cent at the end of last year. 

'There are going to be incidents, and any incident is likely to bring out some of that healthy scepticism among consumers,' said Greg Brannon, the AAA's director of automotive engineering.

'This technology is relatively new and everyone is watching it closely', he said.

Two thirds of those polled said they did not even want to share the road with robots, citing safety fears, writes Bloomberg.

Women appeared most afraid of the new technology and 83 per cent said they would not ride in a self-driving car.

'Despite their potential to make our roads safer in the long run, consumers have high expectations for safety,' Mr Brannon said.

'The industry will need to execute testing in the safest manner possible and ensure the motoring public is comfortable with the approach', he said.

Elaine Herzberg was walking while rolling her bicycle in Tempe, Arizona, in March when she was struck by the SUV. She later died of her injuries in hospital.

The accident was the first time a pedestrian was killed on a public road by an autonomous car, which had previously been praised as the safer alternative to a traditional car.

The car was travelling at 38mph (61kph) at the time, well within the 45mph (72kph) speed limit, but did not swerve or brake before the collision.

On March 23 a 38-year-old man named Walter Huang died after his Tesla Model X ploughed into a concrete barrier on the highway in Mountain View, California.

It was believed he was using the car's autopilot feature at the time of the crash.

Tesla released a statement after the crash which sympathized with Huang's relatives but appeared to shift the blame away from itself and onto him.

'Tesla battery packs are designed so that in the rare circumstance a fire occurs, it spreads slowly so that occupants have plenty of time to get out of the car', a spokesperson said.

'According to witnesses, that appears to be what happened here as we understand there were no occupants still in the Model X by the time the fire could have presented a risk.'

In the aftermath of the accident, Elon Musk admitted that the autopilot program his automotive company is working on will 'never be perfect' at preventing accidents.

Speaking in April, Musk said that the system is not designed to replace human control of a vehicle but instead aid motorists with driving tasks like staying within a lane.

Faith in self-driving cars had plummeted as a result of two high-profile deaths, but in the long run, self-driving cars aim to reduce the number of deaths and make our roads safer.

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