3/24/2015 | 1 MINUTE READ

Poll: Americans Conflicted about Automatic Vehicles

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About two-thirds of American have heard about self-driving vehicles. But they are deeply conflicted about the role of such technology in future mobility, according to a new Harris Poll.

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About two-thirds of American have heard about self-driving vehicles. But they are deeply conflicted about the role of such technology in future mobility, according to a new Harris Poll.

The online survey of 2,300 adults finds one-third of respondents agreeing that automated cars represent the future of driving. One in five considers such vehicles "must-have" technology. But one-third of respondents describe self-driving cars an unnecessary luxury, and one in four believes they offer no benefit at all.

Americans are equally split about the safety of autonomous vehicles. About half consider them "safe" for their occupants and half describe them as "dangerous." About three in five believe automatic cars would be dangerous to nearby pedestrians and those in other vehicles.

Asked about specific benefits of autonomous vehicles, 30% cite improved fuel economy, 21% expect more leisure time and 18% cite the increased productivity of being able to work while traveling. On the downside, 80% fret about the likelihood of computer errors, 70% predict higher service costs, 45% expect insurance rates to go up and 37% worry about personal data breaches.

Older drivers tend to be the most skeptical about autonomous vehicles, and Millennials (those under 38 years old) are the most enthusiastic.

Overall, only about one in five say they would consider purchasing such a vehicle but only after the price comes down and others confirm the technology works as it should. One-third say they will "never" consider buying an autonomous car.