The survey, conducted for Autotrader.com, is a reminder that game-changing technology is less scary when it arrives piecemeal, seeping into daily life until it becomes the new normal. Automakers are betting gradualism will ease consumers’ anxieties about ceding control of a speeding automobile to sensors, cameras and chips.
Each year, bit by bit, cars will become more fully autonomous as the industry bakes “driver-assist” technology into packages of safety options. Gadgetry that five years ago seemed like science fiction is quietly becoming commonplace in a range of models, from luxury Audis to middle-market Subarus.
Ty Hendrickson, 40, recently traded in an aging minivan for a Subaru Outback after meeting someone who broke his back in a rear-end accident. The $27,000 Outback automatically brakes or cuts the throttle if it senses an impending collision and sounds an alarm if Hendrickson crosses the center line or wanders out of his lane.