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Apple will have to allay public concerns about self-driving cars if it makes a self-driving car

If/when Apple rolls out a self-driving Apple Car, it will need to win the public’s trust. A new survey sheds light on the public’s attitude towards self-driving cars and AI in the automotive industry, revealing that 70% of respondents feel uncomfortable riding in a self-driving car.

The automotive industry experts at Rerev — which offers advice eon car parts, maintenance, and repair — carried out a comprehensive survey in May 2023. 1000 drivers aged between 18 and 45 were asked 13 multiple-choice questions that covered topics such as comfort level with self-driving cars, willingness to purchase them, concern about job loss for drivers, trust in AI technology, and safety concerns related to self-driving cars.

Here are some highlights from the report:

Comfort Levels and Purchase Willingness

According to the survey, a majority of respondents(70%) felt uncomfortable riding in a self-driving car. In contrast, only 5% felt very comfortable, while 25% were unsure about it. 

The results also show that 60% of respondents said they are very unlikely to buy a self-driving car within the next five years. In contrast, only 3% responded with a strong likelihood  of making such a purchase, while 12% were uncertain. These findings indicate a cautious attitude towards adopting self-driving technology in the near future.

Concerns about Job Loss

The survey revealed that job security for drivers was a significant concern, with 55% of respondents expressing deep worry about the potential impact of self-driving cars. On the other hand, 40% claimed not to be concerned at all, while 5% were unsure about the issue.

Concerns about Safety

Opinions on safety were diverse among respondents. A significant majority (70%) believed that self-driving cars would be less safe than human-driven ones. However, a small percentage (5%) thought they would be significantly safer, while 10% believed they would be slightly safer. Additionally, 5% expressed the view that both types would offer a similar level of safety.

Trust in AI Technology

When asked if they think self-driving cars will eventually be safer than human-driven cars 30% of participants expressed complete trust, 40% expressed slight trust, and 30% reported a complete lack of trust.

Concerns about Hacking and Backup Drivers

Hacking emerged as a major concern among respondents, with 80% expressing high levels of worry about the potential for self-driving cars to be hacked. 15% claimed not to be concerned at all, and 5% remained neutral on the issue. 

Backup Drivers

Ninety percent of respondents strongly believed that self-driving cars should always have a human backup driver available for emergencies to the question “Should self-driving cars be required to have a human backup driver in case of emergencies?”. Only 3% of respondents suggested that backup drivers should be required solely during testing phases, while 2% believed that AI systems should handle emergencies independently. Another 5% expressed the opinion that the decision should be left to the discretion of car manufacturers or owners. 

Potential Benefits and Drawbacks

In terms of benefits,40% cited increased fuel efficiency as the primary advantage. Reduced traffic congestion was mentioned by 30%, and only 30% believed in improved safety.

Concerning drawbacks, technical malfunctions emerged as the primary concern for 80% of respondents. Job loss for drivers and increased risks of hacking were mentioned by 10% each. 

Liability and Open Source Technology

The question “Who should be held liable for accidents caused by self-driving cars?” had diverse opinions: only 10% of respondents attributed liability to AI algorithms, while 20% held car manufacturers responsible. Interestingly, 15% believed that human owners/operators should bear liability. However, the majority of respondents (55%) were unsure about assigning liability, indicating a need for clearer guidelines and legal frameworks to address this complex issue.

Open Source Technology

Being asked if car manufacturers should be required to make their self-driving technology open source 40% percent agreed to this to promote transparency and collaboration. On the other hand, 30% argued against it, emphasizing the importance of protecting proprietary technology. The remaining 30% believed that the decision should be left to the discretion of the manufacturer.

When might we see an Apple Car?

On. Nov. 18, 2021, Bloomberg reported that Apple is accelerating development on its “Apple Car.” The article says the electric vehicle will be self-driving and could roll out in 2025. 

What’s more, in a note to clients — as noted by AppleInsider — investment bank Wedbush says Apple is likely to announce a strategic electric vehicle partnership in 2022 to lay the groundwork for an “Apple Car” release in 2025.

Dennis Sellers
the authorDennis Sellers
Dennis Sellers is the editor/publisher of Apple World Today. He’s been an “Apple journalist” since 1995 (starting with the first big Apple news site, MacCentral). He loves to read, run, play sports, and watch movies.