Changing Attitudes toward Autonomous Vehicles

Last month, PwC released a study about the consumer response to automotive technology—autonomous vehicles included. The responses provide key insights into the changing attitudes towards these high-profile technologies.


Most notably, 66 percent of respondents said that they think that autonomous vehicles are probably safer than the average human driver. This would indicate not only an openness to the eventual inclusion of autonomous vehicles on the road, but also a trust in the technology and innovation process. That trust is arguably key for the industry as it continues to take on the herculean task of introducing brand new technologies into the market.


Another interesting insight from the study is that respondents expressed themselves most likely to pay more money for safety features as opposed to fancy bells and whistles. The winners (when respondents were asked what features they would be most likely to pay extra for) were comprehensive vehicle tracking, remote vehicle shutdown and a driver override system. This focus on safety is not surprising with recent reports that traffic fatalities have increased for the first time in many decades. A main culprit, as we have seen through our work with safety maven TrueMotion, is distracted driving.


Respondents’ biggest concern with regards to autonomous vehicles, according to the survey, is privacy. When asked if they would be willing to give up some privacy in return for augmented reality displays in autonomous vehicles, for example, 60 percent of respondents said no. Yet overall the responses were very positive.


This survey is of course very encouraging for those involved in autonomous vehicle development: there is growing consumer support for the incorporation of autonomous cars into the current system. We here at Scoville find ourselves intimately involved in the AV space through our work with sharing economy powerhouse Zipcar and are thus also notably aware of the many potential benefits of autonomous vehicles—and excited about what the future might hold.


Yet the technological innovation is happening rapidly and governments are doing their best to keep pace with regulations. This means that a lot of what is happening right now is setting the stage for the future of our transportation system. Thus, the more consumer input today, the better. Consumers should thus continue to follow these issues closely and voice their opinions. Autonomous vehicles promise to have a huge impact on the future of our transportation trends and quality of life—let’s make sure we steer them in the right direction.