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Kelley Blue Book: 60 percent of Americans don't really know what an autonomous car is

According to a study conducted by a car-buying resource, six out of ten Americans have little to no knowledge about autonomous vehicles.

Gordon Gottsegen CNET contributor
Gordon Gottsegen is a tech writer who has experience working at publications like Wired. He loves testing out new gadgets and complaining about them. He is the ghost of all failed Kickstarters.
Gordon Gottsegen
2 min read

Self-driving cars are already here, but a recent study by Kelley Blue Book revealed that many Americans know little about what an autonomous vehicle is -- as many as 60 percent of those polled for the study. The survey included 2,200 respondents aged 12 through 64.

Despite the fact that big-name tech companies like Google and Uber are already putting autonomous vehicles on the streets, the survey found that a large percentage of people were unclear about autonomous vehicles and had mixed emotions about their safety and whether they will become mainstream in the future. Public perception is a major pothole on the road to seeing more of these cars on our roads.

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The survey found that:

  • Control and safety neck-and-neck. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they'd rather have control of their vehicles, even if it meant less safety for other drivers. While 49 percent responded that they'd rather have safer streets, even if it meant less control of their vehicles.
  • Luxury car owners report more awareness about autonomous vehicles. Sixty percent of respondents who own luxury vehicles said they knew more about autonomous cars, while only 39 percent of the remainder group reported the same awareness.
  • People think the roads would be safer if cars were autonomous. Sixty-three percent of people believe autonomous cars becoming standard would result in safer streets, compared to 37 percent who think vehicles are safer when operated by people.
  • Users of ride-sharing apps are more comfortable with autonomous vehicles. Fifty-one percent of current ride-sharing users would prefer to ride in a self-driving car. Compare this to 44 percent of the general study population who prefer self-driving cars. Also, more ride-sharers report knowing a lot about autonomous vehicles (32 percent) compared to non-ride-sharers (8 percent).
  • Younger people reportedly feel more comfortable with self-driving cars. Respondents in the 12-15 age range reported feeling safest (79 percent) and most comfortable (73 percent) with fully autonomous vehicles.

Kelley Blue Book created a companion video that helps explain its findings.