Driving Assist or Personal Chauffeur: How Much Control Are Drivers Willing to Give to Autonomous Vehicles?

August 11, 2020
Driving Assist or Personal Chauffeur: How Much Control Are Drivers Willing to Give to Autonomous Vehicles?

Editor’s note: With more autonomous features making their way into today’s cars, consumers are increasingly exposed to the technology and beginning to consider what it could mean for their own lives. Our automotive and technology teams recently co-developed a three-part blog series to address the most important questions autonomous vehicle developers face today.

The development of autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is second in line to the industry’s hot pursuit of electrification as the next catalyst to transform the global auto industry into the global mobility industry. While the speed of development presents challenges for the automakers, suppliers and tech companies racing to make self-driving cars a reality, another major hurdle they’ll need to overcome is consumer comfort.

Consumer Comfort Level and Trust in AVs

Because the automotive industry as we know it today will likely not resemble the future of mobility, we approached this comfort barrier much the way we would when evaluating new consumer technologies such as handhelds or 5G. Our latest paper, Friend, Servant or Evil Twin: Forging a positive driver-car relationship with self-driving vehicles, looks at the various levels of autonomy within the vehicle and consumers’ trust in each.

Between 20% and 35% of consumers are willing to try high-level autonomous vehicles (high-speed driving in ideal conditions or complete control regardless of speed and conditions). However, one-quarter of consumers are fearful of even low-level AVs that maintain varying levels of human control. Age matters, too, with nearly one-third of respondents younger than 30 demonstrating a willingness to cede complete control of their vehicle to an autonomous system regardless of road or weather conditions.

As human control dissipates and full self-driving elements take over vehicles, consumer trust decreases exponentially. The implications of an autonomous-fearing consumer base do not bode well for mass adoption, as such fear extends beyond use to simply sharing the road with such technology.

AV makers and tech suppliers need to overcome such fear to engender trust among potential buyers and the drivers with whom they’ll share the road. As expected, driver education is the prescription. Automakers can ease drivers into comfort with AVs by offering continual communication regarding how autonomous features operate, enhance safety and improve the driving experience. This translates to investing in a long, iterative communication and adoption process to bring AVs into the mainstream.

To learn about the ways consumers plan to use their AVs, go to part two in our series. Or, skip to part three to find out who is winning the AV race—established auto, big tech or rapid upstart.

Download Friend, Servant or Evil Twin: Forging a positive driver-car relationship with self-driving vehicles to get a closer look at consumers’ expectations regarding autonomous vehicles and how to build public excitement.

Download Friend, Servant or Evil Twin: Forging a Positive Driver-Car Relationship with Self-Driving Vehicles

Mark Carpenter
Managing Director, UK

Mark is Joint Managing Director of Escalent’s European office based in Surrey, England. With over 30 years of creativity, experience, and passion for research combined with deep technical know-how, Mark leads business development in Europe in conjunction with Escalent’s global development strategy.