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Truckers, Consumers Still Leery of Autonomous Vehicles

Even young consumers, including Millennials, are skeptical of so-called, self-driving vehicles, according to a new survey conducted by real-time information systems provider Solace.

As reported by Fleet Owner, the survey highlights that despite growing demand for connected technologies, motorists still want to retain control of their vehicles.

Solace polled 1,500 U.S. online consumers who identified as connected car drivers across a wide age range and found. As a group, 57% would not buy a self-driving car, even if cost weren’t an issue.

When it comes to safety, almost two-thirds (62%) of drivers surveyed by Solace believe they drive safer in connected cars, but when asked what type of decisions they would not trust their connected car to make, 40% noted they wouldn’t trust their car to brake for them – and only 9% said they “always trust” their connected car to start with.

Examining responses by generation, Solace found that younger drivers, counterintuitively, are more hesitant to hand over the driving controls than older generations. Almost half (46%) of Millennials aged 18 to 25 would not trust their car to automatically react to driving conditions, whereas only a third of drivers 65 or older felt that way.

“The automotive industry is focused on bringing self-driving cars to the mass market, but our survey showed that connected car drivers of all ages just aren’t ready to hand over the wheel,” noted Shawn McAllister, chief technology officer for Solace, in a statement. “While advancements in autonomous vehicle technologies are incredibly exciting, it’s important to keep an understanding of the consumer front and center. We hope our survey will help in this regard.”

The article continues:

Trucking CEOs have also expressed feelings similar to those consumers polled by Solace. Dean Newell, vice president of safety and training for flatbed fleet Maverick Transportation and Dave Manning, president of TCW Inc. and the currently chairman of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) both stressed at a recent conference that fully autonomous trucks simply won’t work in the freight business – a least in the over-the-road sector.

“I don’t ever think we’ll see them on the highway,” said Newell. “We’ll see them in certain applications, like mining trucks and things like that. But as far as over-the-road operation I don’t think we’ll see it in my lifetime. They will be more autonomous, but not driverless; we will still need people in there.”

Manning added that drivers “just perform too much other vital work aside from driving,” he explained, citing the tarping down of flatbed loads, handling intermodal container exchanges, conducting vehicle safety inspections, and managing hazardous material shipments.

“They do way more than simply refuel and drive trucks,” Manning said. “And when does technology work 100% of the time? All systems have flaws and a driver needs to be there to go ‘old school’ in case a problem with the technology occurs.”

Newel added that the “skills sets” professional truck drivers bring to the table are also critical to operating big rigs safely in bad weather or in emergency situations as when a tractor-trailer blows a tire.

To read the full article, including more results from Solace’s survey, click here.

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