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UK, US and Australia drivers positive but concerned about autonomous vehicles

In a recent survey, the majority of responding drivers from the UK, the US and Australia, the majority responding indicated that they had a positive initial impression of self-driving-vehicle technology, and had high expectations about the benefits.

However, according to Dr. Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), the respondents also expressed high levels of concern about riding in vehicles equipped with this technology; security issues related to self-driving vehicles; and self-driving vehicles not performing as well as actual drivers.

  • The US had the highest percentage responding that they had previously heard of autonomous vehicles (70.9%), followed by the UK (66.0%) and Australia (61.0%).
  • The most positive responses towards the technology came from Australia (61.9%), followed by the US (56.3%) and the UK (52.2%). The highest incidence of negative impressions was in the US (16.4%), followed by the UK (13.7%) and Australia (11.3%).
  • Approximately 30% of respondents in each country had a neutral opinion of autonomous vehicles.
  • Respondents in Australia were most likely to indicate some level of interest in having this technology (67.7% said “very/moderately/slightly interested”), followed by the US (66.3%), and the UK (63.4%). While the majority expressed some level of interest in having this technology, “not at all interested” was the most frequent response in all three countries (34.2% overall).

In the US, 25% of respondents (75th percentile) were willing to pay at least $2,000 for this technology. The corresponding amounts in the UK and Australia were $1,710 and $2,350, respectively. The majority of respondents said they would not be willing to pay extra for this technology (a response of $0 was given by 54.5% in the US, 59.8% in the UK, and 55.2% in Australia).

Women expressed higher levels of concern with self-driving vehicles than did men. Similarly, women were more cautious about their expectations concerning benefits from using self-driving vehicles.

In comparison to the respondents in the UK and Australia, respondents in the US expressed greater concern about riding in self-driving vehicles; data privacy; interacting with non-self-driving vehicles; self-driving vehicles not driving as well as human drivers in general; and riding in a self-driving vehicle with no driver controls available.

The survey yielded useable responses from 1,533 persons 18 years and older. The total numbers of completed surveys by country were 501 for the US; 527 for the UK; and 505 for Australia.