Though most back self-driving cars, 72% in U.S. say driving must be preserved, too

And they believe car makers should be responsible for autonomous vehicle accidents

Volvo authomous self-driving cars

Volvo's IntelliSafe Auto Pilot interface for its "Drive Me" autonomous driving pilot program.

Credit: Volvo

A majority of Americans support autonomous driving, but 72% of believe that the act of driving  is a luxury that must be preserved, according to a new survey by Volvo.

And 55% of respondents said they want a steering wheel in their car, even if the vehicle is fully autonomous.

The ongoing Future of Driving survey has already garnered nearly 50,000 responses.

The vast majority of those surveyed (79%) also believe car makers, not owners, must take responsibility if an accident occurs when a car is driving in autonomous mode.

volvo self driving graphic Volvo

One observation made by Volvo about its survey is that residents of different states have widely varying views of self-driving vehicle technology.

For example, nine out of 10 New Yorkers and 86% of Californians believe self-driving cars could make life easier. But as few as half the residents of Pennsylvania, Illinois and Texas feel the same.

The online survey also revealed that only about half of Illinois respondents (52%) would trust an autonomous car to make decisions about safety, 10% less than the national average.

Similarly, about 62% of Pennsylvanians think that having more autonomous cars on the road will eliminate traffic accidents (nationally 68% feel that way). And in Texas,  60% believe autonomous cars could keep their family safer compared. That compares to 69% who feel similarly nationwide.

Nearly eight in 10 (78%) of respondents believe their time in transit would be more productive in a self-driving vehicle.

The survey also revealed Americans are concerned about how slowly lawmakers are responding to the prospect of autonomous cars. Eighty-six percent believe federal and local governments have been laggard in planning for self-driving cars.

The implementation of local and federal guidelines and regulatory standards, as well as a legal framework for self-driving cars, continue to prove challenging, market research firm IHS said in a recent report. Various states and regions have taken appropriate measures to begin to develop these frameworks, while others are still crafting their approach.

While the U.S. government has released guidelines for policies on self-driving vehicles, state laws governing their testing and sales continue to be a patchwork of regulations.

In February, backers of fully autonomous vehicles won a major victory when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent a letter to Google explaining that the artificial intelligence used to pilot Google's autonomous vehicle could be considered the "driver" for some (but not all) regulatory purposes.

By 2035, the number of self-driving vehicles on roads worldwide is expected to grow to 21 million, according to a new report from IHS Automotive.

The U.S. will lead the world in the earliest deployments and adoption of autonomous vehicles, IHS said, while at the same time it will have to work through challenges posed by regulation, liability concerns and consumer acceptance.

Deployment in the U.S. will begin with several thousand autonomous vehicles in 2020, with that number growing to nearly 4.5 million vehicles by 2035, according to IHS Automotive forecasts. As in many other markets, a variety of use cases and business models are expected to develop around consumer demand for personal mobility.

Volvo's autonomous driving pilot program, "Drive Me," plans to put 100 consumers in autonomous driving vehicles beginning in 2017.

"The difference between states regarding the safety benefits of autonomous cars highlights why we need a federal framework for autonomous driving regulations," Lex Kerssemakers, CEO of Volvo Car USA, said in a statement.

Volvo plans on developing autonomous vehicles that will give drivers the ability to choose when they want to control the car and when they want to car to drive itself, according to Kerssemakers. "The Future of Driving survey confirmed that consumers seek this freedom as autonomous driving technologies are introduced," he said.

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