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Fatalities erode trust in self-driving cars: AAA report

Roadway fatalities connected to self-driving cars has seen consumer trust plummetting. An American Automobile Association survey pointed to trust in autonomous vehicles taking a downward spiral after the two March incidents. In the first, a pedestrian in Arizona has been killed a self-driving Uber cab and the second involved a semi-autonomous Tesla Model X. The association said the fear factor reported by 73 percent of those polled last month was up 10 points from late 2017 and nearly erased gains from the 78 percent afraid of automated cars early last year.

A member of the media test drives a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S car equipped with Autopilot in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Tesla Motors Inc. will begin rolling out the first version of its highly anticipated “autopilot” features to owners of its all-electric Model S sedan Thursday. Autopilot is a step toward the vision of autonomous or self-driving cars and includes features like automatic lane changing and the ability of the Model S to parallel park for you. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

According to American reports, almost three-quarters of Americans are now saying that they are too afraid to ride in an autonomous vehicle. The age group affected the most was young adults, ages 20 to 37. About 64 percent say they are afraid to ride in a self-driving car — a rather sharp increase from 49 percent at the end of 2017.

The creators of self-driving technology, including Waymo, acknowledged the trust deficit with the public. Efforts to tackle the issue are especially urgent as Waymo prepares to launch a driverless ride-hailing business in Arizona soon. General Motors, which is looking in this direction promises to follow next year in an unspecified major American city.
Interest and anxiety are rather high. The Tesla crashes receive outsized attention as investors and safety advocates seek to learn whether Autopilot was in use. The latest AAA survey shows the public is deeply skeptical. Two-thirds of US adults don’t even want to share the road with autonomous cars. They feel less safe, according to the telephone survey 1,014 people conducted by the association.
Women were found to be the most fearful of the technology — 83 percent said they’re too afraid to ride in a self-driving car and 70 percent responded saying they feel less safe sharing the road with them.
The fear apart, there are consumers who understand the promise of automated driving. About 55 percent said they want semi-autonomous technology in the next vehicle they buy.

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