Autonomous vehicles are the future of the automotive industry, with car companies from Tesla to Fiat Chrysler and Volkswagen developing self-driving features. However, research data shows that the vast majority of consumers are uncomfortable with self-driving technology. Myplanet conducted a survey on consumers’ comfort levels with over 35 forms of automation—and autonomous vehicles were among the lowest ranked items, with 85.2% of respondents expressing their discomfort.
Self-driving technology has enormous positive potential, from stopping car crashes to speeding up supply chains. However, if we push this technology on consumers too fast and too soon, they will be reluctant to embrace this new form of transportation, even though it can save lives, reduce the environmental impact of automobiles, and free up time to do what really matters. So, how can automotive companies successfully introduce consumers to self-driving technology?
The key to successfully selling autonomous driving to consumers is to gradually introduce smaller self-driving capabilities as drivers’ aids that reinforce human safety. While consumers are uneasy with a vehicle taking over driving for them entirely, they are more inclined to hand over smaller tasks like cruise control and parking assistance. This presentation will gradually warm people up to the idea of the vehicle taking over more complex tasks and ultimately the entire task of driving itself.
With so much existing consumer scepticism surrounding autonomous vehicles, large vehicle brands and tech companies need to rethink their go-to-market strategy for autonomous cars
This assertion is supported by a secondary survey Myplanet conducted on different self-driving features, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Departure Assist, Automatic Park Assist, and Autopilot. While 85.2% of respondents did not feel comfortable with the concept of autonomous vehicles, that percentage significantly decreased when respondents were asked about individual self-driving features.
For example, only 28.1% of respondents did not feel comfortable interacting with Adaptive Cruise Control. Only 26.6%of respondents did not feel comfortable interacting with Lane Departure Assist. And only 30.8% of respondents did not feel comfortable interacting with Automatic Park Assist.
The more advanced the feature, the less comfortable consumers were with it. For example, when surveyed about Autopilot, 49.9% of respondents expressed their discomfort. While nearly half of respondents were uncomfortable with Autopilot, this percentage was still significantly lower than the 85.2% who expressed discomfort for autonomous vehicles as a whole.
The key to successfully selling autonomous driving to consumers is to gradually introduce smaller self-driving capabilities as drivers’ aids that reinforce human safety
The solution for car companies is clear: rather than introduce vehicles with complete self-driving capabilities, they should instead focus on developing and introducing smaller self-driving features like cruise control and parking assistance. These smaller features will relieve consumers from monotonous tasks while still giving them a sense of comfort and control.
As consumers become more accustomed to these features, automakers can gradually introduce larger features like Autopilot. Once consumers become comfortable with small self-driving features, they can eventually work their way up to larger ones until, before they know it, their vehicles have become entirely autonomous.
With so much existing consumer scepticism surrounding autonomous vehicles, large vehicle brands and tech companies need to rethink their go-to-market strategy for autonomous cars if they want to avoid big losses on their R&D investments. Gradually introducing smaller self-driving features is a key way that marketers can break down the reluctance consumers have with self-driving cars and eventually build up interest and desire.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Jason Cottrell is Founder and Chief Executive of Myplanet, a software studio that provides AI solutions to companies such as Uber, Google, Delta, Salesforce and more
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