How much do you trust driverless cars? If you’re not entirely comfortable with the prospect of a fully automated AI driver, congratulations – you’re in the majority.
A new study titled “The Pulse of Autonomous Driving” by market research institute Ipsos and Audi has identified 5 distinct types of self-driving car users. Twenty-one thousand people across the US, UK, China, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, South Korea and Spain were interviewed on their opinions of autonomous driving based on their emotions, values, lifestyles and rational beliefs.
The study found that most people had positive views on self-driving cars, though few were actually knowledgeable about the technology – 62% of people were curious about self-driving technology and only 8% felt they knew enough to talk about the subject. Over half of all those surveyed wanted to try it out for themselves – this was a common sentiment of frequent drivers and users of driver-assistance systems. Unsurprisingly, almost three quarters of Gen Z respondents showed interest in the technology.
For those in the study, the benefits of self-driving cars mainly revolved around convenience and safety, especially for those with limited mobility. Those surveyed also aspired to spend their travel time in self-driving cars on relaxing activities like looking out the window, reading, watching movies, listening to music and catching up with friends – the things we usually do on public transport.
However, not all people were willing to welcome autonomous cars into their lives. Concerns were raised on the safety of having an AI driver: 41% were suspicious of autonomous cars, and 38% of respondents were anxious about handing over all control to the car. A large majority of those surveyed feared loss of control (70%) and unavoidable technical risks (66%). One concern of note was the security of our data – after all, driverless cars need our information to function, just like any other form of AI.
Interestingly, one fifth of those surveyed saw autonomous cars as a status symbol which represented their standing as pioneers and opinion leaders. Over 60% of those in China were willing to spend more money on driverless cars – more than twice the number of those willing to do so in the US (27%) or the UK (24%).
The report paints a picture of 5 profiles common across all countries:
- The Suspicious Driver – those who are wary of new technology and prefer to stick with what they know and trust.
- The Safety-Oriented Reluctant – safety is their main concern, but they are open to autonomous driving if it has been rigorously tested.
- The Open-Minded Co-Pilot – those who see self-driving technology as a positive thing and are open to try it out for themselves, on the condition that they can intervene at any time.
- The Status-Oriented Trendsetter – those who think that owning a self-driving car will improve their image and value fun and success above all else.
- The Tech-Savvy Passenger – the most open-minded of all groups when it comes to self-driving cars. As tech fans, they are conscious of sustainability and welcome innovation.
So, what’s the key takeaway? Studies like these show that many are still wary of self-driving cars despite tentative interest. If autonomous cars are to become our future, manufacturers first need to address safety concerns and guarantee a seamless transition whenever the driver wants to take the wheel.
As life expectancies grow and new advances in tech become more commonplace in our lives, driverless cars are becoming an increasingly attractive concept but the technology is plagued by plenty of ethical issues and safety controversies. However, if Tesla’s sales are any indication of their popularity in Australia, you can expect to see more self-driving cars on the road in 2020.
If you want to know more about the study, you can watch Audi’s video here: