Public Grows Increasingly Skeptical Of Self-Driving Cars … Perhaps Confused?

Self-Driving Cars


Self-Driving Cars

Waymo’s self-driving Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid prototype

J.D. Power’s U.S. Tech Choice study shows that car buyers are increasingly afraid that self-driving cars will fail, however they want vehicles with driver assistance features and active safety tech.

According to Kristin Kolodge, executive director of driver interaction and HMI research at J.D. Power:

“In most cases, as technology concepts get closer to becoming reality, consumer curiosity and acceptance increase. With autonomous vehicles, we see a pattern where trust drives interest in the technology and right now, the level of trust is declining.”

While this study could seem negative for those that are pushing for the adoption of autonomous cars, all new technologies take time to catch on. Since J.D. Power’s study shows that drivers of all ages are okay with driver assistance features, and actually want the new tech in their vehicles, this can be seen as a necessary step in the direction of self-driving.

Self-Driving Cars

Tesla Autopilot is simply an advanced suite of driver assistance and active safety technologies.

Let’s use Tesla as an example. Tesla is known for its Autopilot feature, which is essentially an advanced suite of driver assistance technologies. The system started with more minimal features and has grown to what it is today. As Tesla continues to update the technology, it becomes more advanced, and will eventually become fully autonomous.

The reason for using Tesla as an example is that J.D. Power’s study showed that Tesla drivers had more than double the interest and trust in autonomous vehicles than non-Tesla drivers. This is because they already have access to a semi-autonomous system in their vehicles. More and more automakers are adding advanced active and automated safety technology, and some, like Toyota, are including it as standard on all vehicles. In the next five years, all cars in the U.S. will be required to have autonomous emergency braking, and the more advanced system include emergency steering. Once people become more acquainted with such features, and see the positive results, their comfort level will inevitably rise.

Now, let’s look at some details about the J.D. Power’s study, and what was found related to self-driving cars and automated technologies:

The study is in its third year, and was conducted in January and February of 2017, with results from a total of over 8,500 consumers. The survey found that for the second year in a row, driver’s faith in self-driving cars has declined. 11 percent more Gen Z consumers and 9 percent more Pre-Boomers said they definitely don’t trust automated driving, when compared to 2016 results.

Although of all respondents, the top two interests in regards to new car tech offerings were collision prevention features and driver assistance technology. Of the respondents top ten new tech choices (without any impact based on price), three are semi-autonomous in nature; emergency braking, emergency steering, and lane change assist. It seems that maybe people are just a bit confused about these technologies.

Basically, when asked if consumers trust “self-driving cars” in general, there is still increasing apprehension. However, when asked about automated features that will keep them safer and make their lives easier, they are supportive and interested. We can only assume that once the general public is more exposed to these features (like that of the Tesla drivers) they will have a better understanding, and increased trust.

Kolodge pointed out:

“Along with collision mitigation, there are many benefits to autonomous vehicles, including allowing those who are unable to drive in today’s vehicles to experience freedom of mobility. Interestingly, though, 40% of Boomers do not see any benefits to self-driving vehicles. Automated driving is a new and complex concept for many consumers; they’ll have to experience it firsthand to fully understand it. As features like adaptive cruise control, automatic braking and blind-spot warning systems become mainstream, car buyers will gain more confidence in taking their hands off the steering wheel and allowing their vehicles to step in to prevent human error.”

Source: J.D. Power

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19 Comments on "Public Grows Increasingly Skeptical Of Self-Driving Cars … Perhaps Confused?"

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Acceptance will grow with experience of actually sitting in a self-driving car.

Personally if I had to sit behind the wheel of a “self driving” car and take over at times which in all cases you will need to sooner or later given today’s tech I’d be skeptical of them as well.

I am sure the day will come, we’re just not there yet despite what certain companies tell us.

So I actually think sitting in a self driving car and being forced to take over for it would just reinforce the doubt people have in it.

Yeah. The first autonomous vehicles will be ride sharing, which will give people plenty of time to get accustomed to them. Then again, might take longer than you’d expect. I’m constantly surprised by people who haven’t heard of Lyft and Uber. It will be a process.

Put some of them at big mall parking lots on the weekends. Smart phone request picks you up with your packages and takes you to your car.

Not confused. “all cars in the U.S. will be required to have autonomous emergency braking”

I had my first brake-check, yesterday, going along in AP with a low trailer in the lane next to me. I would never have braked for a car traveling parallel to mine, but the system which is about to be required did. I’ve heard about this happening to others. It amounted to a short, firm tap, from maybe 65 to 60mph. Nothing terrifying. Nothing a tailgater would expect.

I’m at the point where I’d gratuitously fill out a “low-trust” response. Not because the “driver assistance features” aren’t fabulous, but because there’s so much money involved in moving them along too fast, or in “requiring” drivers face boring homogeneity. These companies have more money than banks. Enough said?

To me, driver’s assistance features and automated driving are two different things. Far too many people don’t want to give up their autonomy.

As the population ages that will change.

Privacy, Rural Areas and manually driving are for the old folks…

“Interestingly, though, 40% of Boomers do not see any benefits to self-driving vehicles”

A few benefits: Watch a show, read, eat, sleep, work, talk on the phone (w/o crashing), txt. How about travel overnight while sleeping and waking up at your destination instead of driving for 8 hours during the day.

Here’s a benefit that’s hard to argue with:

That idiot in the other car who’s texting as s/he drives, or who is driving drunk, will have a car that’s programmed to avoid an accident even when s/he isn’t paying any attention to the road.

“Once people become more acquainted with such features, and see the positive results, their comfort level will inevitably rise.”

I think that is hitting the nail on the head here: It’s the human comfort level which is at issue.

I read an article a few years back, written by a reporter who was allowed to “drive” one of (at that time) Google’s self-driving cars. He said that he had a lot of anxiety about not being in control of the car, but after a few minutes experiencing how well the car handled traffic, he felt safe and so was able to relax, and then he said he found it exhilarating.

I think that’s going to be the normal human reaction. So when I read comments from some of the Usual Suspects here on InsideEVs that they don’t want their car to have full autonomy, they enjoy driving and they would never willingly give up control… I smile and think “Just you wait!”

Autonomous/electric vehicles will be first cost effective in segments where the extra cost of the systems can be justified by other savings. In essence this means in segments like taxis where autonomy can eliminate drivers and increase the time the vehicle is on the road.

Since adoption of the systems will come later in the personal car market, making that a way off, hardly matters what 40% of boomers think. Personally I don’t understand the resistance. Hopefully your view on how people respond is correct, but I’m not convinced. Your example is likely a bad one. Reporters are more likely than average to be willing to try new things. Lots of people aren’t.

Please do not conflate the two, EVs are here, now, and they work. Autonomous cars are not for quite a while. That’s the danger in my view, Elon dragged Tesla into an autonomous push, which while important on its own merits is not required for EV proliferation.

There is ample evidence that you are wrong and that autonomous vehicles will be here very soon if not here already. What isn’t ready yet is a/ the legislation and b/ (as this article indicates) public acceptance.

Not here already. Point me to one that you can buy right now.

“40% of Boomers do not see any benefits to self-driving vehicles” – a fair estimation of the proportion of that demographic that has zero imagination.

I suspect the apparent decrease in ‘public acceptance’ is simply born out of a wider awareness of the technology, once merely the purview of science fiction, now an ever closer reality.

I see this JD Power report is completely at odds with recent Roland Berger one reported here…

That’s what they said about smart phones… who needs this stuff?
Now everybody has a smart phone and facebook account.
Begining from the 2 year old son to the 99 year old gramdma!