More People Skeptical Of Autonomous Cars New Study Shows


A new study of 8,100 drivers in the US by J.D. Power designed to determine people’s attitudes about autonomous cars finds a curious trend developing. In this the third year of the sturdy, more people reported being skeptical of self driving technology than last year. The number of people born between 1995 and 2004 who said they “definitely would not” trust self-driving technology rose by 11 percentage points to 22 percent compared with last year’s study. Another 23 percent in that age group said they “probably would not” trust the technology.

autonomous cars survey JD Power

Age is definitely a strong factor in the results. Among Baby Boomers, 81 percent said they “definitely” or “probably” would not trust self-driving technology. That’s up from 77 percent in 2016. J.D. Power said 40 percent of Baby Boomers see no benefit from self driving vehicles, while nearly half listed their largest concern as “possible technology failures/errors.”

As the industry races to get self driving cars on the road, consumers are showing an increasing reluctance to accept the notion of cars that drive themselves. “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,” said Kristin Kolodge, J.D. Power executive director of driver interaction and human machine interface.

The survey asked people what features they want their future cars to have. Most said they liked the idea of safety systems such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure and blind spot warnings, and emergency braking systems. But interest declined after the survey respondents were shown the amount of money those systems would add to the sticker price of new cars. The features customers were least interested in included second row seating configured as an “executive lounge,” mobile system control, and individual sound zones.

Tesla owners, not surprisingly, were more comfortable with self driving systems. Their interest in autonomous vehicles is almost double that of non-Tesla drivers.“Tesla consumers arguably have more experience with automation than other manufacturers,” Kolodge says. “Automated driving is a new and complex concept for many consumers. They will 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.”

Digital keys are very popular with younger drivers. About 40 percent of the youngest consumers said they would “definitely” like digital key technology which would eliminate the need for a key fob and transfer control of the car to a smart phone app. J.D. Power said 58 percent of drivers in that group would pay $250 for the digital keys, compared with just 28 percent across all generations.

Technology is a curious thing. Nobody wants it before it gets here, then everyone wants it. Most industry observers say there will be more changes to automobiles and how we use them over the next decade than there were during the previous century. As expected, Elon Musk is out front and leading the way toward the brave new world of autonomous driving and future transportation technology. The J.D. Power survey shows he may be ahead of many segments of the population but the odds are they will catch up pretty quickly once the changes become available. After all, that pretty much the text book definition of “disruptive technology.”

Source: Automotive News


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  • HG Wells

    It’s the baby boomers who will decide when self driving cars can legally be on the road. With the low acceptance rate of baby boomers for self driving cars, I’m beginning to worry that the legislatures will be very slow to act to legalize self driving cars.

    With numbers like these self driving cars may never be legal.

    I’m 63 and I can see in 10 years I will need a self driving car!

    • Steve Hanley

      Good point. Older Americans should be the ones clamoring for this the most. But old people (like myself) are very tech averse. It’s a conundrum.

    • Joe Viocoe

      Legislation is not decided by surveys. If it were, this country would be a very different place.

      Ultimately insurance companies and NHTSA will have a much larger role in deciding how the legislation pans out. Once there are enough test miles confirm that autonomous vehicles have substantially less risk… the actuaries will push this forward. This is how we got anti-lock brakes and airbags. Not based on surveys.

  • trackdaze

    Is this trust level higher or lower than our trust in other drivers?

    • Steve Hanley

      Lower apparently — depending on age, of course!

      • trackdaze

        The way i see it everyone needs all the drivers assistance features they can get.

        Seems the baby boomers are a little too confident in their own driving ability and could benefit from a how to drive up the wrong side of the highway stealth mode and crashing through a shop front mitigation ( destroy only sale items) system.

        And the youngens want more time to perfect a pouty selfie and status updates.

        Me? i’m fine*

        *i want them all but i want to be able to turn them off.

  • Jonny_K

    Will they crash? Complex systems fail even with meticulous design, exhaustive testing, and careful, expert maintenance. We all know the stories, the CAT scanner that killed the patient, the Air France flight that crashed in the sea when ice formed on the air speed sensor. There must be a study somewhere, believable or not, that suggests self driving cars will be different. Do any of you know of such a study?

    • Joe Viocoe

      I am sorry to tear down this strawman, but who is actually saying that the systems are fail proof?

      The bar is set at “safer than the average driver”. And there are 30,000 deaths per year in the us alone. So it’s a pretty low bar. They don’t have to be anywhere near perfect, just better than our distractible selves, which is easy.

      • Jonny_K

        Looking for a study. Somebody must have done one, something with some analysis, some math.

        • Joe Viocoe

          With a title like that, i have a feeling that straw man arguments are baked into every point.
          It’s not just fatalities,… But also injuries and property damage are HUGE problems that would be reduced by fewer accidents.

          For a truly useful conclusion in overall safety… It’s really hard to study in a lab. It’s trying to prove a negative over time and billions of miles. Given exact same scenarios between an attentive driver and AI, the driver might perform better everytime.
          But in the real world, people crash when they are NOT at their best and most attentive.

          So a truly useful study won’t be available until autonomous vehicles have done billions of comparable miles.