Self-driving cars: The solution people don’t want

A lot of problems are going to be solved when self-driving cars become a thing. But first a big problem has to be solved: Consumers don’t want them.

It’s likely true that as people get accustomed to the idea, they’d be more open to it, but the second year of an MIT study on the question has found support for the self-driving cars isn’t growing, it’s declining, WBUR reports.

Even young people — defined as 25-34 — are half as likely to say they’d be comfortable with the technology as they were a year ago.

Bryan Reimer, a research scientist at MIT’s AgeLab, says people’s personal experiences with technology may come into play here. He says everyday tech issues that we experience, like Wi-Fi disruptions or a website not working, trouble people as it is. But “here you’re asking an individual to put their life in the hands of technology,” Reimer said.

That concern was reflected in comments made by survey respondents. One respondent flat out said: “I don’t trust technology to the point of putting my life in its hands.”

But Reimer said people do want some autonomous technology in their cars — such as automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping systems and auto-park features.

“They’re looking for driver assistance systems that work to help them stay in active control [and] safe control of the vehicle,” Reimer said. “They’re just not looking for a car to drive them in a chauffeur kind of framework.”

Asked how much they’d pay for a car that drives itself, 48 percent of those responding said they would never buy a car that drives itself.

MIT’s study results mirrors that of other recent surveys.