Autonomous cars seen as smarter than human drivers

PwC released the results of its latest survey on the future of automotive technology, and it seems Americans are coming around to the idea of autonomous cars, ride hailing and car sharing. So much so that 66 percent of respondents said they think autonomous cars are probably smarter than the average human driver.

PwC, a global provider of professional services, directly surveyed 1,584 people aged 16 and older in the U.S. to ask them about the future of transportation. They found that people’s acceptance of the new technology depended more on their attitudes toward technology than their age and that people wanted practical tech as opposed to shiny doodads.

Gen X and Gen Y, which covered ages 21 through 49 in this study, were the most likely to be enthusiasts who were interested in all the new automotive technology. People older than 50 and younger than 20 were less interested in any automotive tech at all.

It’s interesting to note that the top three technologies that people would consider paying more for were emergency-related. Comprehensive vehicle tracking, remote vehicle shutdown and a driver override system were on the wish lists of more than two-thirds of respondents. Those technologies even outranked gesture controls and perfect integration with smartphones.

Ride-sharing usage via services like Uber are slowly creeping upward, with 37 percent of respondents saying they’d used ride sharing at some point. Of the remainder who hadn’t used ride sharing, 55 percent said they were interested in trying it. But you’ve been warned, Uber: while 74 percent of respondents believed that “ride sharing does not hurt the economy,” 72 percent did believe the industry should be regulated. That interest did not extend to car sharing. Only 23 percent had used a service like Zipcar or car2go, and only 37 percent were interested in even trying it out.

As for autonomous cars, people were mostly worried about safety, including the possibility of their car being hacked. But people also gave lots of positive responses for using self-driving cars, like being better transportation for the elderly and having fewer accidents. So people are concerned about self-driving cars being safe, but they’re also willing to concede that they’ll probably follow the rules of the road better and crash less.

The study found that 13 percent of consumers saw no advantages to autonomous vehicles. When asked if they’d be willing to give up some privacy for access to high-tech features like augmented reality displays in autonomous vehicles, 60 percent said no. And 53 percent (part of those who were concerned about safety) said they were “scared of self-driving cars,” so there are still barriers to overcome for our robot overlords.