Self-driving vehicles represent a technological leap forward that can offer solutions to current transportation problems and dramatically change how people approach mobility. While self-driving cars have the potential to improve safety and increase quality of life, many people appear reluctant to adopt the technology, because they are uncomfortable with safety, liabilities, and control. Public attitudes toward self-driving cars are increasingly important as the public shapes the demand for the technology, policies that govern them, and future investments in infrastructure. Moreover the nature of the technology means that the truly transformative benefits are only realized once self-driving cars are adopted en masse. We investigate public attitudes toward self-driving cars using the responses of 107 likely adopters in Berkeley, California as a case study. What do these people find most and least attractive about self-driving cars, and how do they envision the inclusion of the technology? Would they adopt this technology and in what form? Do an individual’s demographics, existing travel behavior, and relationship to cars and technology affect his or her opinion about self-driving cars? We find that individuals are most attracted to potential safety benefits, the convenience of not having to find parking, and amenities such as multitasking while en route; conversely, individuals were most concerned with liability, the cost of the technology, and losing control of the vehicle. Men are more likely to be concerned with liability, and less likely to be concerned with control than women. Individuals with higher income are most concerned with liability, and those with lower income appear to be more concerned with safety and control. Single-occupancy vehicle commuters and cyclists were most concerned with giving up control. All groups were concerned with costs. We present this case study to inform those creating this technology how self-driving cars will likely be perceived by the public.
Public perceptions of self-driving cars
The case of Berkeley, California
Transportation Research Board TRB Annual Meeting
20220014 ST [electronic version only]
12-16 January 2014