Humans vs. Robots: Who Do You Trust Behind the Wheel?

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A recent survey found that many people are more comfortable with the idea of a self-driving ride-share vehicle, versus riding solo with a human behind the wheel.

  • The study found younger passengers were more accepting of autonomous ride-share services.
  • Conversely, only one out of five Baby Boomers surveyed said they would hail a self-drive vehicle.
  • To gain acceptance down the road, automated cars must convince humans they’re safe and secure.

Who would you trust more behind the wheel, a human or a jumble of wires and sensors? While fully self-driving cars remain very much a work in progress, a new study hints that people wouldn’t mind a robot being the one to get them from Point A to Point B.

Would you trust a computer behind the wheel more than a human? (Photo: Getty Images)

In fact, the study uncovered that many respondents would feel safer riding solo with robotics doing all the driving. In total, the survey polled 2,000 people to judge how comfortable they would feel in a driverless ride-share vehicle. Many of the responses came down to generational differences, with younger people feeling far more secure trusting technology. Here are some of the key findings:

  • Gen Z (people aged 18–24) were most open to driverless ride-shares. A total of 40 percent said they were willing to hail a ride from one.
  • If traveling alone, 53 percent of those surveyed said they would feel safer taking a self-driving car than a driver-operated ride-share.
  • Baby Boomers (aged 55 and up) were the only age group to prefer a solo Uber ride over a driverless car.

The study suggests that what’s equally surprising as the amount of trust being afforded to self-driving cars, especially among younger respondents, is the fact that so many of those surveyed expressed serious safety concerns about riding alone in a ride-share vehicle.

Once again, older respondents were the ones most open to trusting an actual driver, not a machine. But even here the results were extremely close, with 51 percent of Baby Boomers saying they trust a solo ride-share, versus 49 percent who’d prefer an autonomous vehicle.


The dawn of the robot revolution will first need the approval of humans willing to let wires, sensors, and software do all the work. With billions of dollars being poured into autonomous drive systems, less is known about how accepting people will ultimately be with this evolving technology.

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