Autonomous vehicles have been the talk of the automotive industry for the past few years. Experts from around the world have speculated when level 5, or fully autonomous, vehicles will be widely available for consumer purchase, but predictions are constantly changing.
In 2016, then-U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said fully self-driving cars would be accessible by 2021. Due to several factors, including lack of infrastructure and AI technology, the original timelines like the one Foxx gave are being pushed back. Many companies like Ford have moved their timelines to a year or more out from the original estimates. We’ve also seen a number of partnerships between auto manufacturers pop up in the last year in an attempt to be the first to get driverless vehicles on the road.
The truth is, with the large investment in autonomous vehicles (AV) and the daily advances in technology, we could start seeing driverless vehicles popping up any time in the next few years, although it will still take time to see a majority of consumers driving — or riding in — AVs.
Public Opinion of Autonomous Vehicles
Although automotive representatives, tech professionals and enthusiasts are eager about AVs, a great deal of Americans don’t share the same sentiment. A recent survey from AAA found 71% of respondents were afraid to ride in AVs. A similar survey from Myplanet discovered 85.2% of survey takers also felt discomfort with AVs. Finally, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found half of U.S. adults think AVs are more dangerous than human-operated vehicles.
Conversely, citizens of other countries like India, China and South Korea are more open to AVs, Reuters/Ipsos uncovered. Younger Americans also are more likely to trust AVs.
Driverless vehicles are not unique in having naysayers or reservation among consumers. People also were originally worried about trains, planes and cars when they were first introduced. Today, people hardly think twice about taking those forms of transportation. Like the other transportation methods, we’ll see individuals adapt to autonomous vehicles over time.
Yet, the automotive industry shouldn’t simply wait for the natural acceptance to set in. There are things industry leaders can do to help speed up the adaptation process without scaring consumers.
Preparing Consumers for Autonomous Vehicles
Because of the potential economic implications of not adapting and the vast benefits of adopting AVs, it’s vital auto industry leaders, governments and other community influencers work together to help communities become comfortable with driverless vehicles.
The first and most important way to help people adapt to self-driving vehicles is through education. Sharing safety statistics, offering test drives and presenting all the information about the autonomous technology will help people understand the pros and cons of self-driving vehicles. Manufacturers should create educational campaigns long before the release of fully automated vehicles to help consumers gather the facts and have their questions answered.
Tout the Benefits
There is an abundance of benefits for AVs, from improved safety and community economics to creating a more inclusive world. The following are some of the most desirable advantages of driverless cars.
- Cost savings: According to a recent Business Insider article, Morgan Stanley says autonomous cars could save an estimated $1.3 trillion every year in the U.S. by cutting cost of insurance, licensing and repairs. Aon estimates AVs can lower insurance premiums by 40% or more.
- Increased safety: Approximately 94% of traffic accidents in the U.S. are caused by human error, according to NHTSA. AVs can save lives, prevent injuries and make roads safer all around because they are programmed to follow all traffic laws. AVs have sensors and software that build a full picture of the road, can detect what humans can’t and react more quickly to avoid accidents.
- More free time: AVs can free up time spent in traffic or looking for parking spaces by using advance technology and GPS systems. They also will free up time by allowing riders to focus on other activities during car rides.
- Increase inclusivity: Currently, there is an entire community of people who cannot work, don’t have the freedom to travel when they want and must rely on others to get to doctor’s appointments or other engagements. AVs will allow people with different abilities who currently can’t drive to be able to own and operate vehicles.
- Reallocate funding: AVs will likely result in more ride-sharing, fewer cars on the road and a decrease in demand for parking spaces. Parking lots and spaces cover roughly one-third of the land area of many U.S. cities and can be repurposed. Federal, state and local government agencies may be able to reallocate a good portion of the roughly $180 billion spent annually on highways and roads, Investopedia estimates.
Embrace the Slow Rollout
AVs aren’t fully autonomous yet, but there are vehicles on the road that have autonomous features. Many people enjoy using autonomous technology such as lane departure assistance, adaptive cruise control and automatic parking without knowing they’re autonomous elements.
Highlighting this fact can help consumers feel more comfortable with the safety of autonomous technology. Furthermore, a secondary survey from Myplanet supports this idea. The survey found while 85.2% of respondents did not feel comfortable with the concept of autonomous vehicles, the percentage significantly decreased when respondents were asked about individual self-driving features. Only 28.1% of survey takers did not feel comfortable interacting with adaptive cruise control, just 26.6% didn’t feel comfortable interacting with lane departure assist, and only 30.8% didn’t feel comfortable interacting with automatic park assist, Jason Cottrell, founder and CEO of Myplanet, said.
Enlist Trusted Sources
Consumers can be somewhat distrusting of getting information on controversial topics from companies deeply involved. It’s not surprising there are people who will not trust information on AVs from auto manufacturers because they believe they’re just trying to sell expensive vehicles. Enlisting trusted people can be a great way to share information in a non-biased way. Community leaders, business leaders and industry experts can help you educate consumers and influence public opinion.
JVIS and Autonomous Vehicle Design
JVIS has been working on electric and autonomous vehicles for nearly a decade. Our expert team has spent countless hours researching and forecasting trends, as well as working with leading autonomous vehicle manufacturers to develop components for the new technology.
We pride ourselves on pushing the boundaries for vehicle design to exceed consumer demand every time — autonomous vehicles are one of our biggest passions to date. To learn more about JVIS’ role in this groundbreaking technology check out our past blog Partnerships Accelerate Autonomous Vehicle Production. To take your idea from concept to consumer, visit jvis.us.