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UMTRI survey finds drivers’ cautious attitude toward autonomous vehicles little changed over past year

Researchers at University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have found little movement over the past year in motorists’ attitudes toward the prospect of autonomous vehicles. A new survey of 505 licensed drivers in the US found that the most frequent preference (43.8%) for vehicle automation was for no self-driving capability. Partially self-driving vehicles was the second more frequent preference (40.6%), with completely self-driving vehicles being the least-preferred choice (15.6%). Preference for having vehicle automation generally decreased as respondent age increased.

The findings of the 2015 survey by Brandon Schoettle and Dr. Michael Sivak, developed to examine motorists’s preferences among levels of vehicle automation, were similar to those of their survey fielded in June 2014, which asked the same questions.

Schoettle and Sivak found that motorists’s attitudes toward autonomous vehicles did not change much between their 2014 and 2015 surveys. Click to enlarge.

The survey also found that concern for riding in self-driving vehicles was higher for completely self-driving vehicles (35.6%) than for partially self-driving vehicles (14.1%). Respondents also overwhelmingly wanted to be able manually to take over control of completely self-driving vehicles when desired.

Preferences were generally divided between touchscreens or voice commands to input route or destination information for completely self-driving vehicles. Most respondents said they would prefer to be notified of the need to take control of a partially self-driving vehicle with a combination of sound, vibration, and visual warnings.


  • Brandon Schoettle and Michael Sivak (2015) “Motorists’ Preferences for Different Levels of Vehicle Automation” UMTRI-2015-22


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