Most Americans would not give up the steering wheel to a computer

And Bluetooth and video capabilities appealed to just 4% of consumers surveyed

Bosch autonomous car technology

A vehicle using sensors and cameras to determine distances to cars and other objects around it.

Credit: Bosch

An international survey performed by an online community of engineers found that  only 35% of U.S. consumers want a driverless vehicle.

"Despite the hype around driverless cars, it seems that it's actually a minority of us who want to surrender the steering wheel to a computer," element14, the engineering group that performed the survey, said in a statement.

Conversely, the online survey of 3,500 people showed that 71% in India and 67% in China would like a fully autonomous vehicle.

Self-driving cars survey element14

Thirty-five percent of Australians, 34% of French, 33% of U.K. consumers and 32% of those in Germany said they'd like self-driving vehicles.

"The findings were eye opening. Fundamentally, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the biggest things consumers care about are safety, and energy efficiency, rather than intelligent robot drivers or connectivity," element14 said. "However, as engineers, we know that these two overarching aims are precisely what technology can help with."

Forty-four percent of those surveyed liked the idea of a car that drives itself and will pick you up following a request via your smartphone. Forty-one percent said they'd buy that self-driving, smartphone-controllable car.

The consumers surveyed also indicated they were environmentally focused, and 51% said they'd like to see all electric vehicles become more ubiquitous.

"It's a problem that the likes of Tesla and Smart are making huge inroads with solving, but in general electricity does not yet match carbon-based fuel for speed, acceleration and range," element14 said. "As advances are made, however, which markets care the most about the trade offs?"

Self-driving cars survey element14

While in Europe (U.K. and Germany) consumers are more focused on reducing emissions, those in India, the U.S. and China are more concerned about improving performance, the survey revealed.

When it came to emissions versus performance, however, supporters of gasoline-powered vehicles complained EVs simply don't have enough get up and go.

Studies performed on autonomous vehicles have indicated that the number of car accidents would dramatically decrease if computers rather than fallible humans controlled cars and trucks.

"So it appears that there is a significant job to do in educating consumers and securing greater acceptance in the driverless car concept," element14 said.

While technology is surging ahead in the automotive market, consumer desires differ  starkly from the developments the industry is focusing on -- at least on the surface. For example, the number of consumers who say they would like their car to feature sensors that can judge the distance to other cars was just 8%.

Also, surprisingly lacking support were features such as Bluetooth wireless connectivity and video -- neither of which made the top 10 features consumers want.

Bluetooth and video capabilities appealed to just 4% of those surveyed, showing they are not looking to technology for more ways to keep themselves entertained on the road.

"This speaks to the ways in which we must approach technology features in automobiles, and how they should be packaged for motorists," element14 said. "The targets are safety and efficiency; technology is just a vehicle to get us to reach them."

This story, "Most Americans would not give up the steering wheel to a computer" was originally published by Computerworld.

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