Imagine what driverless cars could do for society. Distracted and drunk driving accidents could be a thing of the past. The elderly would have built-in chauffeurs to shuttle them to doctors appointments. And no one would ever have to slap or blast chill themselves late at night to stay awake behind the wheel.

It may sound like something straight out of science fiction, but tech and car geeks know that fully automated vehicles are already here and hoping to win legislative and public approval. The big question is, are people ready to put their trust in them yet?

Believe it or not, most of them are. According to a new global survey from Cisco Systems, more than half of the participants say they’d be willing to ride in a driverless car, like those from Google, Ford, Audi, Lexus and others. That’s shocking (in a good way). It defies the widespread notion that most people aren’t ready for this future-forward automobile tech, and practically removes one of the biggest barriers to commercialization — consumer acceptance.

The study, which polled 1,514 participants ages 18 and older from all over the world, reveals that an overall 57 percent would be willing ride in an auto-piloted car. That’s a pretty huge mass of potential customers. But things get even more fascinating when you break the numbers down further.


In terms of interest, Brazil’s 95 percent pantses the U.S., which had 60 percent affirmative responses. And both beat Japan, at 28 percent, by a mile. For a country that adores innovation, it’s pretty surprising that this seems to weird them out. Another surprising statistic comes from the overall family segment: Seems quite a few parents are open to these hi-tech vehicles, with 48 percent overall willing to put their children in them. In fact, in some countries, almost as many people would let their kids ride in them as themselves.

So how much stock should the industry put in this report? Well, Cisco has a reputation for conducting thorough studies. Then again, it’s also the same company that puts out security programs and connectivity hardware, like those that would be required in autonomous vehicles, so some skepticism would be natural.

But if the company’s findings really are accurate portrayals of consumer sentiment, then self-driving cars and automated highways could be coming sooner than we could have ever imagined. (For a look at what a driverless highway could look like, check out this fascinating concept by a student from China’s Harbin Institute of Technology.)

Cisco’s Customer Experience Report is chock full of interesting tidbits. The study also reveals that 83 percent of consumers begin their automobile purchasing online, and many people would happily give up personal information for more security (60 percent), customization (65 percent) and savings (74 percent). For more factoids, be sure to hit up the source link.