People are interested in robot cars, just not older people: study

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Tech-savvy youngsters and high-earners are keen on the prospect of self-driving cars, but older people are often wary and suspicious, according to a survey by car manufacturer Audi.

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Market research institute Ipsos interviewed 21,000 people from China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Britain and the United States for a project called “The Pulse of Autonomous Driving”.

A total of 82% showed interest in autonomous driving, with 62% saying they were curious about the new technology. A further 53% of respondents said they were keen to try out a self-driving vehicle.

The study found five car user types ranging from “status-oriented trendsetters” who look forward to autonomous driving through to the “suspicious driver” who prefer to take the wheel themselves.

Fans of robot cars tend to “tech-savvy” while the wary are usually older with a lower level of income and education, the study found.

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The largest user group are the “open-minded co-pilots”, who are fundamentally open to autonomous driving as long as they can take control at any time.

Enthusiasm varied too. The Chinese are euphoric about self-driving cars and South Koreans take an above-average positive view of the technology, showed the survey.

The Spanish and Italians are the pioneers in Europe while Germans and the French are still cautious, along with Americans, the Japanese and the British.

The overall level of knowledge about autonomous driving appears to be low. Only 8% of respondents said they could explain the subject.

The study is part of the carmaker’s ongoing research into social acceptance of autonomous driving which began in 2015. The study looks into rational arguments, emotions, values and lifestyles which shape people’s attitudes to autonomous driving.

“Automated and autonomous driving has the potential to improve our mobility substantially,” said head of Automated Driving at Audi Thomas Mueller. “On the way there, alongside technical development, it is of decisive importance to convince people.” -The Star

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