Drivers don't trust autonomous vehicle technology and data sharing

UK study shows today’s drivers aren’t ready to take “double leap of faith”

Published: November 3, 2019, 9:30 PM
Updated: November 6, 2019, 10:09 PM

Autonomous vehicle usage

A UK survey has shown that today’s drivers aren’t ready for autonomous vehicles but not because they want to keep control over the vehicle … they don’t trust the technology nor the sharing of information.

Autonomous vehicle adoption study cover

It’s a “double leap of faith,” concludes the study of 3,000 UK motorists by Neckermann Strategic Advisors, based on a survey by specialist agency 7th Sense Research UK. The study titled Being Driven: A study on human adoption of autonomous vehicles (AVs) concluded that 75% of respondents are not yet ready to embrace the concept, and it could be another decade before they fully welcome it.

“Consumers need to be inspired by the benefits of AVs instead of being flummoxed by the technology,” said Lukas Neckermann, Managing Director of Neckermann Strategic Advisors. “The promise of enhanced journey safety, convenience and dependability is much more compelling than endless discussions on the trolley-problem and number of miles driven in autonomous mode.”

autonomous drive start

That “unwillingness to share” is also the reason why the concept of “vehicle sharing” isn’t close to becoming part and parcel of society — there’s that attachment many vehicle owners still feel, and a perceived lack of prestige in not owning a vehicle (though that is becoming less of an issue with each new driving generation).

“The prospect of shared ownership – giving up what’s often seen as a mechanical member of extended family – and a skewed perception of what AV technology offers, is too much for a large majority of the UK to consider in one step,” said Fergus McVey, 7th Sense Research UK Ltd. CEO. “The industry needs to communicate the message that AVs are being developed to make your life better, not more complicated, less flexible or to jeopardise any sense of freedom.”

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The study revealed that 60% of respondents prefer private use/private ownership, which counters the industry assumption that drivers don’t want to own the cars they drive

The conclusion is that today’s motorists aren’t ready for the mobility concepts toward which society is speeding.

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“Electricity and radio took 40 and 20 years, respectively, to cross the 80% penetration threshold, whereas smartphones and social media took under a decade,” said Frederic John, co-author of the study. “However, these technologies did not replace items with an emotional attachment. Fax machines didn’t have nicknames, bring your first-born back from the hospital or go on family holidays. For consumers to detach themselves from this emotional connection in favour of the unknown, they first have to understand how AVs can enhance their travel experience.”