The San Francisco Bay Area, arguably the epicenter for autonomous vehicle testing in the U.S., has appeared to sour on self-driving tech.
In a new study conducted by the Bay Area Council polling 1,000 Bay Area residents, 46 percent said they would ride in a self-driving tech car, a 4-percent drop from 2017, with 40 percent not willing to ride without a human safety driver.
Part of a change in sentiment is due to a large string of well-publicized accidents, including Uber’s May Arizona mishap, Waymo’s crash (also in Arizona), and a Model X vehicle crash into a Mountain View, Califoria, highway barrier. Not to mention cars burning up out of nowhere and the focus in self-driving tech actually shifting to big rigs. Altogether, not the combination companies like Waymo and Uber were hoping for.
Well, That Escalated Quickly
“There’s been a lot more negativity in the last year, with a few high-profile accidents,” said Jim Underman, president of the Bay Area Council, in a recent interview. “In my view, people become a little skittish when they hear these stories.”
In late May, the American Automobile Association (AAA) also published a similar 1014-participant study revealing growing mistrust in autonomous vehicles, with 73 percent of American drivers reporting being afraid to ride in one, a 10 percent increase from a Jan. study. Of note were millennials, the demographic with the largest shift in attitude, up 64 percent from 49 percent in a 2017 study.