New survey shows baby boomers most resistant to fully autonomous cars

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Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

A recent survey conducted by Kelley Blue Book showed that out of 2,264 U.S. residents, baby boomers were the most resistant to fully autonomous cars, followed by Generation X, millennials and Generation Z.

Jaime Davis, training program manager for University Compliance Services, teaches a workshop on generational differences. Davis said baby boomers may be more skeptical toward self-driving cars because of their attachment to cars.

“I think for baby boomers in particular, there is a love relationship with cars,” Davis said. “When we look at the movies in the ’50s and ’60s, a lot of them have a car as a central theme. I think that relationship those folks have with cars is going to be hard to give up.”  

Computer science professor Peter Stone, who researches artificially intelligent computing systems, said autonomous cars are closer than we think in terms of practicality.

“The technology is completely ready,” Stone said. “The issue is we need a similar standard for autonomous cars so that people can get to the point of trusting that they are safe on the road and become willing and share and share the road with them.” 

Stone said he is working to develop virtual intersection systems that will make auto travel safer and faster. 

“Intersections are where the majority of accidents are,” Stone said. “So if we can figure out how to get cars through intersections more efficiently, it will lead to less fuel use, less time wasted, less emissions.” 

Gordon Tsai, a petroleum engineering and finance senior, said he is a huge believer in self-driving cars. Tsai said he is looking forward to the partnership between car companies to advance autonomous driving. 

“If you look at large corporations, there’s a lot of talent and money going into autonomous drive capabilities,” Tsai said. “One interesting partnership is Lyft and General Motors. Some people in the industry view that as a unique combination of both hardware and software capabilities.” 

Spencer Doyle, an international business senior at St. Edward’s University, said he had taken the Tesla model X for a test drive. 

“Driving the model X was a weird and amazing experience,” Doyle said. “The first time I turned on the autopilot, the car centered me in my lane. I was a little scared because it was the first time I had ever given control of a driving car to the car, but after about two minutes, I was comfortable about letting it do its thing.” 

Doyle said he wishes to see more autonomous cars in Austin because he sees them as the future of transportation.

“I would love to see [self-driving cars] around Austin,” Doyle said. “They are where the future is going, and I don’t see why people are getting upset.”

Shawn Jones, co-founder of Sweet Rides, which is a group of car enthusiasts in the Austin and San Antonio area, said he notices the millennial generation is not as interested in cars as he was because of the convenience of technology. 

“I have two sons, one that is 22 and one that is 17, and they are just not into cars like I was,” Jones said. “My sons can communicate through social media, so they don’t have to drive all the places to get to visit with their friends like my generation did.”