Majority of Americans Don’t Trust Self-Driving Cars, Study Says

At least…not yet.

byAaron Brown|
Majority of Americans Don’t Trust Self-Driving Cars, Study Says

If companies like Google's Waymo, Uber, and Tesla want to go far with their attempts to put their autonomous car technology out into the public world, it might help if the people they intend to use that tech trusted it. Which, apparently, most of them don't A new study that says 74 percent of Americans don't think self-driving cars will be safe shows just how little faith the public currently has in autonomous vehicles.

The Deloitte study surveyed 22,000 people from 17 different countries on their "attitudes" toward interior tech, car safety, self-driving cars, and how ready people were to use features associated with those topics. 

While almost three-quarters of Americans not yet ready to trust the computers inside autonomous cars with their lives, 68 percent said their minds could be swayed if the tech could be proven safe. Also, 54 percent of Americans said they would opt for a ride in an autonomous car if it were built by a brand that they already knew and trusted. 

Though it's not exactly clear which brands those might be. According to the survey, just 47 percent of consumers trust normal car manufacturers to market autonomous cars, and only 20 percent of Americans trust tech companies to build the self-driving vehicles. 

"Automakers and technology companies first have to earn consumers' trust, then turn that trust into a willingness to pay for a must-have feature," said Craig Giffi, vice-chairman of Deloitte. "Today trust is lacking. Ironically, fully autonomous vehicles are being engineered to be much safer than today's vehicles."

Compared to people surveyed from other countries, it appears Americans in general are a bit less hopeful than those in other parts of the world. Those surveyed in China, Germany, and India showed more faith in self-driving cars than the Americans—as well as more trust than the Japanese. For those who trust normal automakers to build their self-driving cars, South Korea was the lowest at 44 percent, followed by America, then Germany at 51 percent, and Japan at 76 percent. 

When autonomous cars are finally ready to transport us near and far, it'll be interesting to see if the companies that designed them have a plan to make the world comfortable with the lack of control while (not) behind the wheel.