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Poll: Do autonomous vehicles have a future?



Continual technological progress appears to be the default assumption of our age. When it comes to the automotive industry, there appears to be a widely held belief that autonomous cars are inevitable and that it won’t be long before everyone has given up driving. But will that really be the case?

Almost every major automotive manufacturer is working on autonomous driving technologies, with Tesla leading the way (you’ve no doubt spotted those outrageous news stories about drivers falling asleep whilst their Tesla Model S is on autopilot).

But here’s the thing. Autonomous functionality is only worth developing if people are going to use it. 

A new study from global market research group Ipsos has found that most people surveyed upon buying a new car, want to drive it themselves. The survey, Global Mobility Navigator Syndicated Study, found a high level of disinterest among car buyers when it comes to autonomous driving tech. The survey asked a series of questions around autonomous driving technologies to over 20,000 new car buyers from 10 different countries.

Admittedly, it’s only a small survey and its results do not necessarily ring the death knell for autonomous driving technology – but it does reveal a set of attitudes and beliefs amongst drivers which automakers may not have fully taken into account in their rush to incorporate autonomous capabilities into future models.

“The study confirms new car buyers are simply not ready to hand over the driving responsibilities to their vehicle, even for a short amount of time,” says Todd Markusic, Vice President of Ipsos Mobility. “A key and possibly overlooked revelation is that almost 70% of new car buyers simply enjoy driving. They have spent a lot of money on their vehicle and want to drive it. That is the feature.”

That new car buyers are disinterested in autonomous possibilities can possibly be attributed to a lack of awareness as to what autonomous driving tech actually involves. According to the same Ipsos study above, only 15% of drivers globally know a fair amount about autonomous mode. Within the US that number drops to 10%.
Do autonomous vehicles have a future?
If autonomous vehicles are to have a future, then manufacturers have their work cut out in making people aware of the features and benefits of this new technology. It’s something which is echoed by Markusic who says:

“Getting vehicle owners to actually experience how good these systems truly are would have a tremendous impact on changing consumer perception relative to autonomous. Meanwhile, only 30% of new car buyers in the US have a positive opinion of the Autonomous Mode feature and only 25% would consider the feature in their next vehicle.”

As with many debates, there’s always a third way to consider. 

In many vehicles, autonomous mode doesn’t have to be an either/or option. For many drivers, the best solution would to have the option of taking control when they want to (e.g. on empty curving country roads) and letting autonomous mode take over when they don’t feel like driving (e.g. in heavy traffic or on motorways/highways). 

Do autonomous vehicles have a future?

It’s over to you. Do autonomous vehicles have a future? Or will human nature mean we will always want to have direct control over our cars? Or perhaps there’s a happy medium to be reached between car manufacturers and drivers. 

Vote now in the poll at the top of this page, or let us know your thoughts in the comments below. The results of this poll will be released on Monday 23rd September, with the best comments featured in the EngineeringPro newsletter.
Tags: Automotive
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ANDRE GURSES, 18 September 2019
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Poll: Do autonomous vehicles have a future? - Time to read 3 min
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