37 Percent of Americans Interested in Autonomous Driving Technology: Study

With Google’s driverless cars making headlines, the public sentiment towards autonomous driving technology appears to be on the rise with a new J.D. Power study revealing that 37% of American vehicle owners are interested in such systems.

Part of the findings in the larger 2012 US Emerging Technologies Study, it’s less of an endorsement of cars that drive themselves completely, and more of a reflection of how consumers regard partial-autonomus driving aides where the car, at times, takes over control. Examples of such technologies include Volvo’s Full Auto Brake feature that can bring the car to a complete stop if a potential crash is detected, or even Lane Keeping and Blind Spot systems that will pull a car back into its lane in certain cases.

When owners were informed that the cost of such technologies could add $3,000 to the price of a car 20% still said they “definitely would” or “probably would” purchase such features in their next vehicle.

Of note, the numbers changed depending on many factors, ranging from gender to age to the type of vehicle being purchases. In total 25% of males were interested in autonomous technologies compared to 14% of females. Not surprisingly, younger buyers (aged 18 to 37) were more interested at 30% compared to just 9% for those aged 57 to 65.

In addition, premium vehicle owners were 31% interested, compared to 18% for non-premium owners. And those in urban areas also showed a higher interest rate than those in rural communities.

The J.D. Power Consumer Insight and Strategy Group also found that social media chatter about autonomous driving technologies was generally positive, though concerns expressed by auto enthusiasts pointed towards a lack of driver involvement and less driving enjoyment from such technologies.

The J.D. Power Emerging Technology Study also gauged the interest of car owners in 22 other emerging technologies, polling 17,400 vehicle owners.