How do people feel about autonomous cars?

Autonomous cars have a lot to prove if they are to replace their manually-driven counterparts. Not only do they need to be technologically sound, they have to overcome the stigma surrounding them as well. 

It's all well and good for them to be appealing on paper, but they need to prove themselves in practice to ensure fleet managers and eager members of the public are interested. Recent research from financial educators NerdWallet found that while there is a degree of interest already, it varies among different demographics.

Who is most excited about autonomous vehicles?

While exactly half of all men surveyed by NerdWallet were excited about the prospects of owning an autonomous car, only 37 per cent of women felt the same way. On top of this, 54 per cent weren't keen on owning one at all. 

The organisation also found a series of other issues that could prevent consumers from taking the plunge. Almost half (46 per cent) of the survey's respondents highlighted safety as a key concern, an issue that manufacturers will be looking to address. 

Price point is also a factor, with 50 per cent of those surveyed stating they were unlikely to pay a premium for the technology. 

Despite a few negative attitudes, there were positives to emerge from the results. So far, drivers are seeing the appeal of 'semi-autonomous' technologies such as blind-spot detection and automatic emergency braking

How can manufacturers prove they're safe?

Facts and figures will only go so far in proving to fleet managers that autonomous cars are worth taking seriously. Instead, manufacturers need to provide tangible evidence that their vehicles can handle the open road.  

Delphi - supplier of the technology these vehicles rely on - put its systems to the test by strapping them to an Audi and attempting the first ever coast-to-coast crossing of the US in an autonomous car. 

Around 99 per cent of the 5,500 km drive from San Francisco to New York was completed with the car in its autonomous setting with no incidents to speak of. The event was simultaneously an R&D exercise and proof to the public that these cars are safe. 

Google has also begun producing monthly reports to address any remaining safety concerns. In its June report, the company revealed that its autonomous fleet has been in just six accidents in the nearly 3 million km they have travelled. On top of this, Google stated that none of the accidents had been its vehicles' fault.