Survey: Nearly Half of Drivers Are Comfortable With (Limited) Driverless Tech

Over half of respondents said they would “prefer” the technology.

Jul 22 2015, 5:31pm

Photo courtesy Google

A new survey conducted by the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute suggests four-in-ten drivers are comfortable with limited forms of driverless technology.

Two researchers at the university asked 505 drivers about their feelings towards driverless technology, differentiating between "completely self-driving" (like the kind currently being worked on by Google, whose latest prototype is pictured above) and "partially self-driving" cars. Completely self-driving cars can travel without passenger input, while partially self-driving cars would still require some input, such as pressing the brake pedal, from a passenger.

Some 41 percent of respondents said they would prefer a partially self-driving car, and almost 16 percent would prefer a completely self-driving system. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the most receptive portion of survey respondents were males under the age of 45.

Despite this, 96 percent of those surveyed said they'd want vestiges of control like a steering wheel and pedals—even in completely self-driving vehicles.

The University of Michigan has been one of the most robust researchers of driverless technology, recently opening a $10 million test facility known as MCity for driverless vehicles.

MCity is built to replicate a suburban town, and was funded in partnership with several major companies that have a vested interest in driverless tech, including General Motors, Toyota, and Verizon.

So far, driverless vehicles are only allowed on the road in a few states, most notably California. But if public sentiment continues to trend upwards along with the technology, driverless cars may become commonplace sooner rather than later.