Study found 47% of people who use the service gain more trust in the taxis.  -  IMAGE: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

Study found 47% of people who use the service gain more trust in the taxis.

IMAGE: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

Consumers in general don’t trust driverless taxis, whether they hail them or not, a new study found.

The first U.S. Robotaxi Experience Study by J.D. Power shows just 27% of people who don’t ride in driverless cabs are comfortable sharing roads with them and that only 20% of all consumers are OK with them being tested on nearby roadways.

J.D. Power conducted the nationwide study in July. Though the overall findings paint a dark picture of consumer views on the technology, the researcher actually calls robotaxi riders ambassadors of the automated technology. It found that 47% of people who use the service gain more trust in the taxis and that 51% of riders with an already high level of trust maintained that trust during a driverless ride. Just 2% of riders lost trust during a ride.

“These positive firsthand experiences can help educate other consumers, providing balance to news coverage that often focuses solely on the negative aspects of AVs,” J.D. Power said in a press release on the study.

Driverless taxis operating in San Francisco and a couple of other U.S. metropolitan areas have drawn news coverage when the deployments haven’t gone well.

In August, San Francisco became the first major U.S. city to allow them to operate round-the-clock. In short order, a line of them led to a traffic jam, blocking a city street. This month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened a preliminary probe into whether Cruise taxis are operating with necessary caution around pedestrians.

Most riders try self-driving cabs for the novelty of the experience rather than for practicality, J.D. Power said, pointing out that the technology must move beyond that stage to gain wide acceptance. It said almost 60% of riders and nonriders don’t think the cabs drive better than people, despite the idea that they improve road safety.

LEARN MORE: Automated Taxis Probed Over Pedestrian Safety

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