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Three-quarters of US drivers say they'd cede wheel to robot: survey

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Almost three-quarters of US drivers are eager to replace the daily commute's drudgery with a self- driving car and 80 per cent say they would pay extra to have a robot take the wheel, according to a survey that contradicts other recent studies.

[SOUTHFIELD, Michigan] Almost three-quarters of US drivers are eager to replace the daily commute's drudgery with a self- driving car and 80 per cent say they would pay extra to have a robot take the wheel, according to a survey that contradicts other recent studies.

AlixPartners said that when the 1,517 people it surveyed were presented with the attributes of self-driving cars, 73 per cent said they would want autonomous vehicles to take over all their driving needs. 

Mark Wakefield, head of the consulting firm's automotive practice, said 90 per cent would let a driverless car handle their commute if they could occasionally take the wheel.

The results go against several recent studies showing as many as half to three-quarters of respondents weren't ready to give up the wheel.

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The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute said last month that it found that just 16 per cent of Americans would prefer to ride in an autonomous vehicle, while 46 per cent wanted nothing to do with robot cars and 39 per cent were asked who they trust most to develop the software and protect the privacy of data from driverless cars.

AlixPartners said 41 per cent in its survey said they wanted Silicon Valley to develop the software, compared to 26 per cent who preferred Japanese automakers, 17 per cent who chose US automakers and 7 per cent who favoUred European car companies.

When it comes to building the cars, US and Japanese automakers ranked first and second, with 27 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively. Silicon Valley was a close third at 24 per cent, followed by European automakers with 12 per cent.

COMPONENTS MARKET

Driverless cars will hit an inflection point in 2020 when they begin arriving on roads, according to AlixPartners. By then, the market for autonomous-related components, such as systems that steer wandering cars back in their lanes or automatically navigate through stop-and-go-traffic, could surpass US$20 billion, the firm said.

Self-driving cars, which drive more efficiently and safely, could save US$325 billion by 2020 by avoiding accidents and reducing fuel costs, AlixPartners said.

"People do want autonomous vehicles," Mr Wakefield said. "People still buy safety. And they do believe these vehicles can be done safely."

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