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Safety of the vehicles, including the risk of hacking, remain key concerns for Americans regarding autonomous vehicles

AIG conducted Autonomous Vehicle Insights study last month in partnership with McLaughlin & Associates and Pinkston Group. It studied the responses from 1,000 adults in the United States online, with an accuracy of +/- 3.1 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval. Americans are highly polarized as to whether to accept or reject them on the road, safety of the vehicles, including the risk of hacking, are key concerns among respondents, while ease of driving and lower insurance premiums are seen as compelling benefits.

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As a number of companies are working on developin autonomous vehicles/technology, safety of the vehicles, including the risk of hacking, remain key concerns for Americans regarding autonomous vehicles

The findings of the study were as follows:

Assessing Comfort Levels

  • Forty-one percent of survey respondents are uncomfortable with the idea of sharing the road with driverless vehicles, while 42 percent are generally ok with it.
  • A major stumbling block to acceptance is the perceived security of the vehicles, with 75 percent of respondents expressing concern that fully driverless vehicles, and even autos with autonomous features (emergency braking, lane departure avoidance, etc.), are susceptible to hackers taking control.
  • Sixty-seven percent worry that a cyber breach could expose personal data the vehicle may acquire, such as credit card information, when and where drivers travel, and Internet connections made from the vehicle. Even information such as whom the driver had in the vehicle and the potential for private conversations to be recorded registered as concerns.
  • A plurality (39 percent) believes driverless vehicles will operate more safely than the average human driver, though a substantial 27 percent felt they would not.
  • When respondents were asked whether fully autonomous vehicles would operate more safely than they drive, 31 percent said no.
Nissan LEAF at CEATEC Japan 2013 demonstrating Autonomous Drive
Safety of the vehicles, including the risk of hacking, remain key concerns for Americans regarding autonomous vehicles

The results show fairly even opinions among Americans about the safety benefit of driverless vehicles. On the positive side, respondents were asked to select up to three perceived benefits of driverless vehicles. The most appealing benefits include:

  • Easier/less stressful transportation (44 percent);
  • Increased road safety (42 percent); and
  • Lower insurance costs (39 percent).

Potential Risk Shifts

  • Respondents see responsibility for accidents shifting away from individual drivers and more toward the auto manufacturers and software developers that enable the autonomous technology.
  • In one scenario where a fully driverless vehicle strikes a pedestrian, respondents felt the automaker (50 percent) and software provider (37 percent) would be most liable. Interestingly, 23 percent of respondents still see the vehicle’s occupant as having some form of liability, while 19 percent see the same for the vehicle’s owner. Not surprisingly, 81 percent of respondents think individuals who purchase or ride in fully driverless vehicles should still be required to have auto insurance.
  • For a similar accident involving a vehicle with automated assisted driving technology, the driver is seen as most liable (54 percent), though the automaker and software provider are still seen as substantially liable among respondents, at 33 percent and 27 percent, respectively.
  • Along with this shifting sense of risk toward the commercial components of the car, a plurality of respondents (35 percent) felt automated assistance systems or driverless vehicles should result in lower insurance premiums for the vehicle owner.

Timing Predictions

On average, Americans surveyed think it will take 22 years for driverless vehicles with no active input from human drivers to represent more than 20 percent of the vehicles on the road and that it will take 34 years before the autos make up the majority of vehicles in the U.S.

The most significant factors cited as delaying or preventing the wide availability of driverless vehicles include (respondents could select up to three options):

  • Costs will be too high (55 percent);
  • Computer systems won’t be adequately secured (41 percent);
  • People enjoy driving too much (41 percent); and
  • The vehicles won’t be safe enough (35 percent).

It is known that American International Group, Inc. (AIG) is a leading global insurance organization. This is the fifth in a series of studies by AIG on innovative technology, including the Internet of Things and the sharing economy.

About Piyush Rajan

Asst. Editor |Telematics Wire | Smart automotive

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