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Public confidence in autonomous vehicles is on the decline

A Google self-driving car goes on a test drive near the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

PHOENIX — Autonomous vehicles have become more commonplace in the last decade but with recent incidents involving these self-driving automobiles, safety concerns are on the rise.

According to a study from Cox Automotive, awareness and demand for autonomous vehicles has picked up while safety concerns has the public unsure on whether or not they want autonomous vehicles in their own neighborhood.

Since the beginning of parking assist technology in 2003, the autonomous vehicle industry has expanded and has defined five levels of autonomy beginning with level zero, which doesn’t even offer cruise control, to level five, which doesn’t even contain a steering wheel or pedals.

From 2016 to 2018, safety perceptions on level three vehicles – which can drive on their own in city or highway settings, but must be operated by human drivers on unmarked roadways or congested areas – dropped from a 73 percent confidence level to 59 percent.

Those concerns haven’t stopped auto-makers from exploring the new technology. In 2009, Google began its self-driving car project and in 2013 companies such as Ford, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and GM began working on self-driving technology.

Projections show consumer sales for level 2 cars, ones that provide lane drift assistance and technology to prevent forward and rear end collisions, to rise and cars level 1 or lower to fall by 40 percent.

The poll shows that 75 percent of people believe that autonomous vehicles should undergo real world testing, however 54 percent of people polled prefer the testing take place in a different town or city from where they live.

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