The topic of autonomous vehicles has become fractured. While cool and exciting, the initial accidents and most recent news from Uber — coupled with diverse opinions on the feasibility of the technology — have correlated with the industry’s progress flatlining. The outlook might be bleak, but CivicScience data indicate a glimmer of hope from U.S. consumers.

CivicScience took a pulse on consumer interest in self-driving cars and the survey revealed interest among U.S. adults has increased from 10% to 15% since first reporting in February 2019. Consumers are slightly more interested in autonomous tech as an addition to the cars we drive now, but still, the only decrease shown is among people who are not interested.

There has been no change in general comfort with driverless vehicles which could be considered both positive and negative — no decrease in comfort, but no increase either.

Women are significantly less comfortable with the prospect of a driverless vehicle, particularly owning or driving one. Autonomous technology inside a standard car is more acceptable with both men and women showing equal interest in these features. 

The two youngest age groups exhibit the most comfort with autonomous vehicles overall, but Gen Z is twice as likely to show interest in owning or leasing one as the age group above them. In fact, Gen Z is all about ownership when compared to other age groups. They are the least interested in being a passenger in a driverless car, and tie with the over-55 crowd for lowest interest in autonomous tech. 

Unsurprisingly, the higher a person’s annual income, the more generally interested they are in autonomous vehicles, which are likely to be pricey if or when they become available. Another interesting income correlation is with comfort: people making $150K or more each year report significantly more comfort with driverless cars than any other income bracket. 

The autonomous vehicle industry overall has a complicated road ahead, but consumer support for the technology’s advancement is strong. CivicScience will continue to monitor consumer sentiment on autonomous vehicles to inform the decisions of investors, stakeholders, business leaders, and the general public.