Americans expect self-driving vehicles will routinely travel American streets and highways in the not-too-distant future, according to the findings of the latest HNTB America THINKS national public opinion survey.
The survey also identifies expected benefits and uses of these vehicles, and further highlights the importance of new, advanced infrastructure that must be implemented to make this technology a reality.
Overall, the survey showed that about 70% of all Americans believe self-driving vehicles will be the norm on the nation's roadways within the next 15 years.
The survey took into account the differing expectations of particular age groups compared with the general population when it came to the potential benefits and uses of self-driving vehicles. For example, many Americans generally believe, according to the survey, that autonomous vehicles will provide important benefits such as increasing mobility for non-drivers (51%) and reducing accidents (41%), though fewer believe the technology will help improve safety for pedestrians and bicyclists (23%) help reduce congestion (22%), or improve the environment (18%). However, millennials surveyed have different expectations, as 49% believe AVs will help reduce accidents and increase safety, 33% believe they will benefit pedestrian and bicycle safety, and 27% believe they will help reduce congestion.
Overall, the survey indicated Americans expect AVs to provide a number of uses, with many citing travel between transit stations and airports (37%), ride-hailing services (34%), local package delivery (32%) and personal ownership and use (30%). Among the expectations for seniors surveyed, 52% believe AVs will serve as their first-/last-mile traveled.
The survey also revealed a surprising result which indicates that most Americans (59%) do not believe that AVs are as safe as vehicles operated by a person. However, a majority of millennials (54%) believe self-driving vehicles are safer.