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article imageSurvey: 1 in 5 drivers are interested in self-driving cars

By Leigh Goessl     Apr 30, 2012 in Technology
Autonomous cars have been an increasingly popular topic of discussion as technology is rapidly bringing the idea of a self-driving car to reality.
Google has been actively working to progress the driverless car concept and is quickly making strides in this objective. No longer is it a science fiction concept, but a true reality.
According to a recent survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, a global marketing information services company, 1 in 5 drivers are interested in self-driving cars. The survey included 17,400 vehicle owners and was conducted in March 2012.
In a report, entitled J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study (SM), released on Apr. 26, the surveyors noted the trends of interest shifting to connectivity, entertainment and productivity as car features.
"While vehicle owners remain very interested in technologies that make their vehicle safer, they are turning their attention more and more toward features and technologies that allow them to be productive, connected and entertained while in their vehicles," said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. "Given the variety of interests from consumers, automakers will be challenged to pursue technologies that fit their consumer's interests in order to attract them to their products."
Price is, of course, a consideration, for cars with or without features, after hearing the expense, some tend to shy away from these additional features offered. Yet, the interest for these features appears to be the trend.
That being the case, driverless cars might fit the requirements put forth by consumers in terms of interest since the car would essentially be doing all the work, allowing drivers to focus on other tasks. The researchers included autonomous driving in their query and when asked, 1 in 5 participants said they would either "definitely" or "probably" purchase autonomous driving as a part of their next new vehicle. This figure comes after the consumers learned the estimated market price of $3000 associated with the technology.
J.D. Power and Associated said, the number was higher before price was introduced, at 37 percent interest in driverless technology.
Interest, however, might not necessarily equate to a sale of this newly developed technology.
"Consumers are still learning about how autonomous driving technology could be used in their vehicles," said VanNieuwkuyk. "Many owners are skeptical about releasing control of their vehicle and would like to see the technology proved out before they adopt it."
While some drivers are leery of this relatively new idea and may not trust it, others are hesitant in investing in an autonomous car because they would not want to give up the pleasure associated with getting behind the wheel and taking control of the car.
Whether yay or nay on the notion of a self-driving car, the idea is forging ahead. Google has been right in the center of it all as it steadily works to get its autonomous driving technology approved in all necessarily channels. The Los Angeles Times reported (courtesy of LubbockOnline) Google personnel were in Detroit seeking to learn how Google's technology "can be adopted in vehicles either with automotive partners or as an aftermarket option."
Anthony Levandowski, who heads the company’s self-driving vehicle project, was present in Detroit. The Detroit News reported he told a crowd of several hundred engineers, "The most important thing computers can do in the next 10 years is drive a car."
The Google representative noted that his company might make an announcement as soon as next year as to when the company plans to put the self-driving product on the market.
"We don't know what it's going to take to show its safer than a driver," he said, but he predicted: "It's much sooner than the next decade."
Levandowski acknowledged millions of miles of testing still need to be completed before the product is ready for the consumer market.
There are other logistics to consider, such as roads and insurance.
In Feb. 2012, Digital Journal reported Nevada as the first state to approve driverless cars. Will others follow? With the fanfare and attention the concept of driverless cars is getting, it is probable the technology is here to stay.
More about Google, autonomous cars, self driving cars, Driverless car, Consumers
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