Consumers believe autonomous vehicles will drive better than humans within a decade

A report commissioned by ANSYS has revealed deep insights about consumer attitudes towards autonomous vehicles (AVs) and their future.

Previous research has indicated that people are concerned about the capability of current driverless cars when compared to humans. This report is no different, with just 29 percent of respondents believing autonomous cars drive better than humans today.

However, what’s interesting is that 71 percent of people believe driverless vehicles, in general, will perform better than humans within a decade.

Eric Bantegnie, VP and GM of the systems business unit at ANSYS, said:

“We are at the threshold of a fully autonomous era that will revolutionise global transportation. This report confirms the world’s optimism – but also legitimate concerns – for AVs.

To drive worldwide AV adoption, manufacturers must prove the technology is safer and more reliable than humans.”

There are some differences globally in attitudes towards driverless vehicles. Japan is the most confident in autonomous vehicles with 83 percent believing they’ll outperform humans within the decade, and 38 percent who believe they already do.

When driving around any major city it can often feel that driverless cars won’t have much trouble driving better than idiots humans on the road. In reality, it’s going to take some time for a computer to reach the level of situational comprehension that a human is supposed to have.

Sam Abuelsamid, Principal Research Analyst at Navigant Research, said:

“Automated driving has been a dream of engineers and travellers since at least the 1950s, but the hardware and software required to make it a practical reality has only approached a sufficient level of maturity in the past decade.

For automated driving to become a commercial reality that people trust for safe transportation, consumers will need to be convinced that algorithms can consistently drive more reliably than humans. That will require vast amounts of simulation testing to augment hundreds of millions of miles of real-world, on-road evaluation.”

There’s a clear generational divide in the sentiment towards driverless cars. As you might have guessed, those who’ve spent longer with human drivers are more reluctant to rely on a computer.

43 percent of people aged over 65 said they’d never ride in a driverless car, an attitude that manufacturers will need to work hard to change. In contrast, 87 percent of 18-24 year olds – and 88 percent of the 25-34 age group – said they’d ride in a driverless vehicle in their lifetimes.

Again, there are some global differences in attitudes towards trust in driverless cars. 97 percent of Chinese respondents said they’d feel comfortable riding in an autonomous vehicle. compared to just 57 percent on average in the UK.

When it comes to manufacturer trust, the highest percentage of respondents believe luxury car brands will offer the safest experience (24%), followed by technology giants that may move into the automotive space (20%). Carmakers that are not considered luxury (16%) fall into last place, indicating a potential uphill struggle for the traditional brands.

The main cause of hesitance to ride in a driverless vehicle is technology failure. 59 percent of the respondents have this fear about cars, while 65 percent would have this concern about driverless planes.

You can find a copy of the full report here.

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