A new study from Cox Automotive titled Evolution of Mobility: Autonomous Vehicles examining attitudes towards autonomous vehicles suggests that, while awareness of autonomous vehicles has grown, a majority of the population of the U.S. remains apprehensive. According to the study some 68% of respondents do not yet trust autonomous vehicles and only 45% trust Level 4 automation, full automation with option for human intervention, and a mere 28% trust Level 5, no steering wheel or human controls.

Nonetheless, the companies currently exploring the field continue to make advancements and bring the technology closer to the public in self-driving taxi and ride-hailing services. These services include Google’s Waymo self-driving project which has been testing taxi services for over a year now with its Early Rider program, some 400 members, in the Phoenix, Arizona area and are said to be readying the service for commercial operation, initially with a Waymo employee in the vehicles ensuring everything operates smoothly. Additionally, Lyft and its autonomous technology and software partner Aptiv recently announced the completion of their five-thousandth paid ride in a self-driving taxi in the Las Vegas area where the companies have been operating a 20-vehicle fleet, this too with a human present as a safety measure.

Lyft notes that the average rating customers have left for autonomous rides has been 4.96 out of 5, despite the popular opinions that continue to plague the development of such services. The third of the three major early leaders of the autonomous service market, Uber, has notably scaled back its own operations in the field following the fatal accident that took place in Arizona earlier this year. The company, under recently appointed CEO Khosrowshahi, have yet to reach a decision on the future of their autonomous program despite recently recommencing test in the Pittsburgh area, shuttering its autonomous truck program and closing its facility in Arizona entirely.

The progress Waymo and Lyft are making, coupled with the rise of public acceptance, seems assured to secure the continuation of these programs over the next few years as the rise in public acceptance reaches pace with technology and software development.

 

Read more the Cox Automotive study, download the pdf.

Read about Waymo's operations.

Read about Lyft's plans.

Read about Uber's wavering commitment to its autonomous program.

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