Poll: US residents unsure about driverless cars

Poll: US residents unsure about driverless cars
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U.S. residents are more concerned about the possibility of driverless cars being operated automatically on roads than their international counterparts, according to a survey released on Friday. 

The survey, conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, found that only 56 percent of U.S. residents had positive views of driverless cars, compared to numbers at high as 87 percent in China and 84 percent in India. 

The U.S. registered the highest percentage of drivers who are negative on driverless cars, 16 percent, when compared to the aforementioned countries and Japan, Great Britain and Australia, according to the survey. 

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Companies are racing to develop driverless cars on the promise of reducing gridlock and accidents that are caused by human error on U.S. roads. 

University of Michigan TRI researcher Brandon Schoettle said the overall picture of support for driverless autos was more promising globally. 

“Recent advances in autonomous vehicle technology have helped bring self-driving vehicles to the forefront of public interest," Schoettle said in a statement."Self-driving vehicles are commonly envisioned to be the ultimate, full embodiment of connected-vehicle technology, an area that is currently the focus of several large research projects and government support."

Companies like Google and universities like Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Mellon University have pushed to develop prototypes of driverless cars that are operated with staple parts like steering wheels and manual braking systems.

Supporters have touted the potential for increased safety and convenience of operating autos automatically by computers, but some lawmakers have expressed uncertainty about the possibility of allowing cars on U.S. roads to drive themselves. 

The poll released on Friday found that 67 percent of U.S. residents said they would be “very or moderately concerned” about riding in a driverless car. 

Schoettle said the concerns were masking broader support for driverless cars, however. 

“Respondents in the six countries surveyed, while expressing high levels of concern about riding in vehicles equipped with this technology, mostly feel positive about self-driving vehicles, have optimistic expectations of the benefits and generally desire self-driving vehicle technology," he said.